Microbial Life at High Radiation LevelsCreated by: Scott N. Montross, Montana State University
"Bacteria of the genus Deinococcus exhibit an extraordinary ability to withstand the lethal and mutagenic effects of DNA damaging agents-particularly the effects of ionizing radiation. These bacteria are the most DNA damage-tolerant organisms ever identified."
-Battista, J.R. (1997) Annual Review of Microbiology: v. 51
Why are radioactive tolerant bacteria so special?
Resistance to radiation was first discovered by scientists who were interested in food sterilization. After multiple experiments using high doses of radiation certain bacterial communities persisted, one which was named Dienococcus radiodurans. These unusual bacteria are very highly resistant to what scientists had considered to be absolutely lethal radiation levels. Deinococcus radiodurans is remarkable for its ability to withstand radiation levels 100-1000 times higher than that which would completely debilitate any human on earth.
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