That fungus among us may be the answer to uranium-polluted soils eventually being brought back into use.
Researchers at Dundee Unversity in the UK have determined that fungi can block uranium from finding its way into plants, animals or the water supply.
Scientists have found that what they call free-living and plant fungi can, “colonise depleted uranium surfaces and transform the metal into uranyl phosphate minerals”.
That action helps prevent uranium uptake by plants, animals and microbes, although there would still be some threat involved. Researchers said the minerals produced by the fungi are capable of long-term uranim retention.
The research is currently focused in war zones such as Iraq, where weapons using hazardous radioactive uranium-235 leave a dangerous radioactive residue. The depleted uranium is added to weapons to help them penetrate targets, but leaves a wide field of radiation after exploding.
The findings are preliminary, with many questions yet to be answered. But researchers believe this may be an economical and quite simple way to deal with highly radioactive soils, just add moisture and nutrients to the soil to help fungi flourish.