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Unformatted text preview: ngi
constitutively synthesize melanin , which is likely to confer
a survival advantage in the environment  by protecting against
UV and solar radiation [reviewed in 4]. Melanized microorganisms inhabit some remarkably extreme environments including
high altitude, Arctic and Antarctic regions . Most dramatically,
melanized fungal species colonize the walls of the highly
radioactive damaged reactor at Chernobyl  and surrounding
soils . These findings, and the laboratory observations of the
resistance of melanized fungi to ionizing radiation [8,9], suggest
a role for this pigment in radioprotection.
The role of melanin in microorganisms living in high
electromagnetic radiation fluxes is even more intriguing when
the pigment is considered from a paleobiological perspective.
Many fungal fossils appear to be melanized [10,11]. Melanized
fungal spores are common in the sediment layers of the early
Cretaceous period when many species of animals and plants died
out which coincides with the Earth’s crossing the ‘‘magnetic zero’’
resulting in the...
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- Spring '07