This one is too easy to pass up, so let's get it out of the way right off the bat: I don't mean the kind of mushrooms which became popular back in the '70s. What we have here are new kinds of mushrooms that are growing in the wild in radiation filled areas, like that near Chernobyl. The fungi apparently uses melanin, the same pigment which colors our skin, as a way to convert the radiation to energy, much like most plants use photosynthesis to grow. According to Ekaterina Dadachova, this process is an alternative to photosynthesis, "with melanin playing the role of chlorophyll and ionizing radiation; the role of visible light." Researchers can see ways that this fungi could provide alternative forms of energy as well as ridding the world of that pesky nuclear waste problem. First algae, now mushrooms from mushroom clouds. What's next? This world is a crazy place, huh?
Source: Technology Review]