Radiation-eating fungi. They kill trees and they kill people.

In 2002, a robot was sent inside the sarcophagus of the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and took samples of mold and fungi which were growing on the walls. Five years later, researchers from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine demonstrated that certain fungi “have the capacity to use radioactivity as an energy source for making food and spurring their growth.”

With Fukushima Daiichi & the Japanese burning of tsunami debris spreading nuclear poison over the whole earth, we have a recipe for fat, healthy fungi and sick, dying people.


These fungus species are known as radiotrophic fungi. They use the pigment melanin to convert gamma and beta radiation into chemical energy for growth.


In the original paper, the researchers Dadachova et al showed that ionizing radiation changes the electronic properties of melanin, and enhances the growth of melanized fungi. So any fungus species that contain melanin have their growth spurred in the presence of ionizing radiation. These are not mutant fungi, they are ordinary fungus species found everywhere in the environment. Some of them are common molds that grow in your basement or bathroom.

So these fungi do not actually feed on radiation, they change the properties of melanin, so that it can be converted into energy for growth. Think of radiation as an enzyme that allows melanin to be “digested”. Effectively, it’s the same thing, though.


In this paper, Dadachova and Casadevall discuss the radiation tolerance of fungi, and its role as an adaptation mechanism. There is evidence of widespread prevalence of melanized fungi in the early days of Earth, when radiation was at a much higher level than it is today.

Anyone that follows Chernobyl and radiation measurements of food in Japan know that the worst radioactive contamination in any foodstuffs are in mushrooms. Fungi are very efficient at absorbing radionuclides. Actually, they will eat anything.


Researchers in Turkey found that cesium-137 (from Chernobyl) accumulates more in oak bark than even lichen (which had been thought to be the most contaminated life form). Professor Mori of the WINEP blog showed an autoradiograph of how radionuclides were found in oak bark. Many mushroom species grow on these barks.


Fungus-ridden tree in New Jersey felled by Sandy

Dadachova and Casadevall also discuss radiotropism. This is the tendency of these fungi to move from less contaminated areas of the plant, to more contaminated areas. In a tree, if the fungi start eating in the inmost hardwood area (with the least contamination), they will grow towards the bark on the outside, destroying the tree from the inside out.


The two authors also discussed how radiation increases the amount of spores released by these fungi:

They observed that radiation promoted spore germination in species from contaminated regions, which they called “radiostimulation”. Contrary to their previous results they observed the “radiostimulation” only for the species from contaminated regions but not for isolates from the clean areas. They named this phenomenon “radioadaptive response”.


In the 1930’s, spores were collected in a weather balloon between the levels of 36,000 – 71,000 feet. This is higher than the level of the jet stream (30,000 feet).


Food is treated with gamma rays, which destroy bacteria and microorganisms in the food. The authors also noted that melanized fungi are radioresistant to the typical radiation levels used in this treatment.


Rhizomorphs from an armillaria fungus

Rhizomorphs in New York City

Rhizomorphs or mycelial cords are aggregations of hyphae growing from fungi, which resemble tree roots. They provide water and nutrients for the organism. They can grow very long, under streets and pavements, and can draw nutrients from decomposing leaves at the surface. These leaves may be contaminated with radioactivity, which is all the better for them. They also colonize new hosts (trees), in this manner.


This link provides illustrations of different tree diseases caused by fungi. My son and I recently went on a field trip to 5 different sites in the local area, and saw different kinds of damage. Sometimes the crown goes first, sometimes it is at the bottom, etc.


This pdf provides a good summary on how melanized fungi grow in domestic environments. Many species evolved in unusual ecological niches, and fit right into today’s home. They love dishwashers.


This excellent article (pdf) reviews the current state of medical knowledge of health impacts of melanized fungi. They include the diseases eumycetoma, chromoblastomycosis, and phaeohyphomycosis. The authors classify the conditions into the categories allergic disease, superficial and deep local infections, pulmonary disease, central nervous system (CNS) infection, and disseminated disease.

List of melanized fungi species known to affect human health

Exposure to these fungi is usually due to breathing or minor cuts from infected agents, like thorns or farm implements. “Surveys of outdoor air for fungal spores routinely show dematiaceous (melanized) fungi. This suggests that all individuals are exposed, though few develop disease. Exposure is primarily from inhalation or minor trauma, which is frequently not even noticed by the patient.” Most of these cases occur in the tropics, but they will widely distributed over the planet from now on.

It is important to recognize that exposure to radiotrophic fungi also includes exposure to radioactivity, which of course increases the risk of disease.




“Allergic responses to dematiaceous fungi may actually represent the most common clinical manifestation of these fungi. Though asthma has many associated environmental factors, several studies have linked it with exposure to molds and to dematiaceous fungi… Allergic fungal sinusitis is a relatively common condition, with estimates of 6 to 9% of all cases of chronic sinusitis requiring surgery… it is now appreciated that disease due to dematiaceous fungi actually comprises the majority of cases… Allergic bronchopulmonary mycosis (ABPM) is similar in presentation to allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), which is typically seen in patients with asthma or cystic fibrosis.”


“These cases of superficial infections involve only keratinized tissues, such as the fingernails and toenails and the stratum corneum. Consequences of these infections are generally cosmetic… Tinea nigra is an uncommon infection confined to the stratum corneum. The characteristic appearance is that of a pigmented macule, usually on the palms or soles, and may be bilateral.”


Subcutaneous lesions

“Subcutaneous lesions are the most common case reports of infection due to melanized fungi in the literature… Many patients are immunocompetent, and they often are from a rural background, i.e., farmers with frequent, minor trauma from plant material or gardeners… Lesions typically occur on exposed areas of the body and often appear as isolated cystic or papular lesions. Presentation is usually indolent, with weeks to months of gradual enlarging mass, though pain is often absent. Severely immunocompromised patients are at increased risk of subsequent dissemination, though this may rarely occur in apparently immunocompetent patients as well. Occasionally, infection may extend to involve joints or bone, requiring more extensive surgery or prolonged antifungal therapy.”

“Fungal keratitis (inflammation of the cornea) is an important ophthalmologic problem, particularly in tropical areas of the world. In one large series, 40% of all infectious keratitis was caused by fungi, almost exclusively molds.”


“Pulmonary infection is usually seen in immunocompromised patients or those with underlying lung disease, and it may be due to a wide variety of species… Clinical manifestations include pneumonia, asymptomatic solitary pulmonary nodules, and endobronchial lesions which may cause hemoptysis.”


“Central nervous system infection is a rare but frequently fatal manifestation of phaeohyphomycosis, often in immunocompetent individuals. In a review of 101 cases of central nervous system infection due to dematiaceous fungi, the most common presentation was found to be brain abscess… What is truly unique about this disease is that over half the cases were in patients with no risk factor or immunodeficiency. In addition, no specific exposures were associated with onset of infection, though many cases seem to occur in rural areas. Typical symptoms included headache, neurologic deficits, and seizures, though rarely all three… Mortality was >70%… The pathogenesis may be hematogenous spread from an initial, presumably subclinical pulmonary focus, though this remains speculation. However, it remains unclear why these fungi preferentially cause CNS disease in immunocompetent individuals… Meningitis has also been described, usually in immunocompromised patients.”


“Disseminated infection is the most uncommon manifestation of infection caused by melanized fungi. In a review of 72 cases, most patients were immunocompromised, though occasional patients without known immunodeficiency or risk factors developed disseminated disease as well… Interestingly, peripheral eosinophilia has been observed in 9% of cases, and these were generally due to Bipolaris and Curvularia. These same species are often associated with allergic disease… The mortality rate was >70%, despite aggressive antifungal therapy. There were no antifungal regimens associated with improved survival for disseminated infection.”


This abstract from researchers in China details symptoms of cerebral phaeohyphomycosis.

“Cerebral phaeohyphomycosis is a fungal infection of the brain typically caused by Cladophialophora bantiana, Exophiala dermatitidis, and Rhinocladiella mackenziei, all of which belong to the order Chaetothyriales. The disease results in black, necrotic brain tissue, black pus, and black cerebrospinal fluid. Pathogens usually reach the brain through the bloodstream or lymphatic fluid and occasionally through direct spreading or accidental inoculation. Patients can present with hemiparesis, tonic spasm, headache, fever, sensory variation, cerebral irritation, and even psychotic behavioural changes.”

The same thing will happen to human brains

The black, necrotic brain tissue is similar to the black, necrotic leaf tissue we have seen in the dying trees. The same thing that is happening to the trees happens to human brains.

Humans are radioactive too. These fungi seek food.


Read this blog, the Wit’s End blog, or a database of photos I am collecting for more information. Or go to Flickr and enter the search term “Sandy tree”. Most of the uprooted and broken trees from Hurricane Sandy show sign of fungal damage. Tree damage and death is rapidly spreading across the planet.

UPDATE: CDC Responds to Multistate Outbreak of Fungal Meningitis and Other Infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with state and local health departments and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is investigating a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections among patients who received contaminated preservative-free MPA steroid injections from NECC. Several patients suffered strokes that are believed to have resulted from their infections. The investigation also includes other infections from injections in a peripheral joint, such as a knee, shoulder, or ankle. Patients who received injections in peripheral joints only are not believed to be at risk for meningitis, but they could be at risk for joint and other infections.

As of November 15, 2012, the predominant fungus identified in patients continues to be Exserohilum rostratum, with 84 CDC laboratory-confirmed cases. One patient, the index case, had a laboratory-confirmed Aspergillus fumigatus [JPG – 29 KB] infection. These fungi are common in the environment; fungal infections are not transmitted from person to person.

Multistate Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Investigation

Exserohilum rostratum is a melanized fungus that is on the list of those that affect human health. More information from wikipedia. 32 36 dead so far.

UPDATE: An excellent scientific review on mycotoxins is available here. These are secondary poisons from fungi that affect the health of humans, animals, and plants. Some are carcinogenic.

625 thoughts on “Radiation-eating fungi. They kill trees and they kill people.

  1. Lavrans Skuterud, a scientist at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, said reindeer at Vaga reinlag AS, in the central Norwegian Jotunheimen mountainous area, were found in September to have nearly eight times the amount of radioactive substance Caesium-137 in their bodies as was measured around the same time in 2012.
    “This year is extreme,” Skuterud told The Local.


  2. Lakeland Animal Nutrition: Feed Recalled After 3 Horses Die in South Florida

    Four products

    LAKELAND | A Lakeland animal feed manufacturer has recalled four of its horse feed products because of a possible link to the death of three horses at a South Florida ranch.

    The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is investigating the deaths and has sent the feed to a private lab to test for adulteration, spokeswoman Erin Gillespie said Tuesday. It expects to have the test results by the end of the week.
    Lakeland Animal Nutrition, a subsidiary of …


  3. How Ebola and Fungus May Speed Up the Chocolate Shortage

    China’s growing demand for chocolate may also be contributing

    A recent chocolate shortage has seen cocoa farmers unable to keep up with the public’s insatiable appetite for the treat–and the world’s largest chocolate producers, drought, Ebola and a fungal disease may all be to blame.
    Meanwhile, China’s demand …


  4. Biological control product against apple scab is just a matter of time

    Apple scab caused by the fungus Venturia inaequalis is economically the most destructive disease in apple production worldwide. Apple scab control requires multiple applications of fungicides during spring and summer. A potential biological control agent – H39, based on a particular strain of the fungus Cladosporium – has been …


    • Potential biofungicide against apple scab tested successfully in Europe


      The antagonist Cladosporium cladosporioides H39 was found to significantly reduce sporulation of Venturia inaequalis, the fungus causing apple scab. The potential of this antagonistic isolate has during two years been tested by several institutes in orchards with different apple cultivars in Hungary, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands. Treatments with H39 were conducted as regular calendar sprays or after infection periods. In the Netherlands (Randwijk) the trials focused on the effect of timing of application of the antagonist H39 before or after infection periods. …


  5. Genome Of Anti-Cancer Fungus Sequenced

    Known to be rich in anti-tumor terpenes, the Antrodia cinnamomea fungus has had its genome sequenced.

    AsianScientist (Nov. 19, 2014) – Scientists have completed the whole genome and transcriptomic analysis of the highly sought after Antrodia cinnamomea fungus. The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to the development of new strategies for producing medicinally valuable secondary metabolites from fungi.
    A. cinnamomea is well-known in Taiwan as a traditional remedy for cancer, hypertension and …


  6. Yellow-legged frog being saved at the Oakland Zoo

    The yellow-legged frogs are among the species under the endangered species list. Biologists from Oakland Zoo are working on saving the said species of frog.
    According to Oakland Zoo manager Victor Alm, the conservation work that the zoo is doing is a race against time. He said the population of the yellow-legged frog have dropped 90 percent in ten years. one cause of death is fungal infection where…


  7. Salamander experts concerned over deadly fungus’ U.S. prospects

    100 percent of Eastern red-spotted newts exposed to the fungus in a laboratory died.

    The deadly fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans is wiping out salamanders in parts of Europe. Researchers such as amphibian expert Karen Lips of the University of Maryland predict the fungus will soon come to America, according to a release from the university.
    Various species of newt, a type of salamander, remain a …


  8. Homeless in Vancouver: Last wasp standing—just barely

    Its survival testified to its toughness. Maybe it was so tough that it just didn’t know when to fall down and give up.
    Its legs were splayed out and it crawled forward slowly, as if blind.
    Looking at the photos, I was curious about a small spray of white on the wasp’s back, just behind its head. Possibly evidence of a fungal infection?
    Parasitic fungus is known to regularly kill bees and flies in the fall and there is a rather …


  9. This Fungus Is Known As “The Mushroom Of Immortality” & “The King Of All Herbs”

    Chaga is a non-toxic fungal parasite that grows on birch trees (as well as a few other types) in Northern climates. It is far from your typical soft and squishy mushroom, it actually looks and feels like burnt wood or charcoal. Chaga is known by the Siberians as the “Gift From God” and the “Mushroom of Immortality.” The Japanese call it “The Diamond of the Forest,” and the Chinese refer to it as the “King of Plants.” The Chinese also regard it as an amazing …


    • Quote: “”It usually has some type of powdery look, so if you look on a plant or large leaf and see some white or greenish powdery appearance, that’s mildew,””

      It’s everywhere here. Maple leaves seem to show it most, as those leaves are about the broadest. Some Cottonwood trees grow larger leaves about mid-tree and up, but neglected to notice. (Have heard it said that “anything grows in decaying Cottonwood”, but am not certain if that is true.).

      Will never forget how much of a failure my “bright” idea decades ago of ducting clothes dryer into a rental for “cheap heat” turned that room pitch black with mildew, and my pitiful attempted to clean with hypochloride (bleach) instead of baking soda. That house is gone now.

  10. Ash dieback spread throughout England: Number of woods affected has tripled in just two years to nearly 1,000
    Disease affecting ash trees first detected in Britain in East Anglia in 2012
    Now found from Cornwall to Northumberland and in Scotland and Wales
    Reports suggest the government’s efforts have so far made little impact
    More than £16.5m spent tackling ash dieback and other tree diseases


  11. New Black mildew fungus found in Malabar sanctuary

    In a breakthrough in the study on foliicolous fungus, a research team from Mar Thoma College, Thiruvalla, has identified a new black mildew fungus on the leaves of an endemic yam plant, Dioscorea wallichii (Dioscoreaceae), in the Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary, part of the Western Ghats.


  12. Doubtless most of you saw this one from majia just now,….but in case you haven’t. WOW. She’s getting then SOB’s DEAD TO RIGHTS! 🙂 Go majia!


    February 10, 2015 at 12:26 pm Log in to Reply
    “The nuclear complex has known since 1953 that radionuclides – such as Strontium-90, pose irreparable risks to the biosphere.

    Read about Project Sunshine


    After completion of Project Sunshine (which followed Project Grabriel) the AEC commissioned many studies on bioaccumulation in the environment, which I review here:


    A separate study funded by the Rockefellers – BEAR – was published in condensed form in 1956. The genetics subcommittee warned that radiation induces heritable mutations that are transmitted across generations, with potentially devastating long-term impacts to the human genome:

    The nuclear complex has known that radionuclides poison life and yet the complex took little-to-no-action to stop the growing contamination of planet Earth, upon which we all depend.

    The nuclear complex is leading us toward our extinction. But first we get to watch the animals we love die from our greed, corruption, and denial.”

  13. HILO >> Hawaii scientists say a fungal pathogen may be responsible for recent die-offs of ohia trees.

    The Hawaii Tribune Herald reports scientists are taking a close look at a fungal pathogen called Ceratocystis, which has previously been found in Hawaii on taro and Okinawan sweet potato, as the cause of Rapid Ohia Death over the last five years.


  14. Scientists think fungus is killing off ohia

    Hawaii Tribune-HeraldExperts call it the single most important tree for the protection and proliferation of native forests across the state.The ohia is the most widespread, as well as arguably the most beloved and iconic, native tree in Hawaii. And for the last five years, it has been under attack by a troubling new foe that had foresters and scientists scratching their heads. Until recently. …


  15. Fish deaths: Growing concern over future of fish farms amid recurring plankton blooms
    Recurring and more severe plankton blooms a big challenge for farmers
    The plankton bloom which wiped out more than 500 tonnes of fish along the East Johor Strait last week, and seems to have now affected farms in the western side, has raised concerns on the industry’s future here.

  16. Candida albicans is one of those microbes we just love to hate and for good reason. Although normally considered to be part of our microbial flora, residing in our guts, genitals, mouths and eyes, this fungal species can also cause a plethora of diseases. Some are minor such as skin irritation but others can be far more problematic from oral thrush to vaginitis and even life-threatening sepsis, which is an infection of the blood and organs.
    How Candida causes infection has been a major focus for public health research. Understanding the switch from normal colonizer to potentially deadly pathogen may allow for the development of both preventative and treatment courses of action. Yet, studies have revealed there is far more to the picture than a simple shift in microbial mentality. It turns out …


  17. Sugar-based MRI could vastly improve cancer detection
    researchers in the new study compared MRI readings from proteins, called mucins, with and without sugars to detect signal changes. Then, they
    looked for this signal in four types of lab-grown cancer cells. In these cells they found notably lower levels of mucin-attached sugars when
    compared to normal cells.

  18. Exotic fungus, beetle attacking red bay trees
    April 17, 2015..The red bay, it is believed, will be eradicated from the southeast. The sassafras will be affected by the disease, but to a lesser affect.
    Many people have heard of sassafras as settlers often used this aromatic tree to make tea brewed from the bark of its roots. The bark, twigs, and leaves of sassafras are also important foods for wildlife….

  19. The National Institutes of Health has suspended all manufacturing of medical products after finding some were contaminated with fungus.

    It has stopped all clinical trials that use products made in its facility while it checks everything and tried to find out just what went wrong. Six patients who got potentially contaminated injections are being watched.

    “This is a distressing and unacceptable situation,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.


  20. Fungal disease killing citrus trees in Southeast Louisiana
    In the later stages, the fungus can move up from the roots into the trunk. This is what you saw at the base of the trunks of the two trees that died Phytophthora, water mold, kills the roots of citrus trees. The tree loses the ability to absorb water from the soil. It gradually dies, usually a branch or section at a time. In the later stages, the fungus can move up from the roots into the trunk. This is what you saw at the base of the trunks of the two trees that died. The root-rot disease is causing the cracked, peeling bark and the area where the bark has fallen away. These are signs that the fungus was moving up into the trunk and causing damage there.

    • *** 113 extinctions so far due to the chytrid fungus. ***

      The chytrid fungus has been spread by the African clawed frog, which carries it but is immune. For decades these African frogs were exported worldwide after a 1934 discovery that they could be used for pregnancy tests in humans.

      “Chytrid has since been found in over 500 amphibian species, and is now on all continents except Antarctica,” Scheele says. It has driven the decline of over 200 species, of which 113 are thought to be extinct. As Australian frogs face the same fate, we decided to investigate this killer, focusing on its long term effects.”

  21. This Fungus Was A Medieval Mass Murderer
    St Anthony’s Fire was one of the things that made the Middle Ages a horrible time in which to live. People would feel a pricking sensation in their arms or legs. This would turn to burning pain, and the arm would swell and redden before turning gangrenous and dropping off. You were lucky if the limb simply died without taking you with it. …

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