When scientists sent a probe into the heart of the Chernobyl reactor, they weren't expecting to find much. After all, the reason they needed a probe to begin with was the high levels of ionizing radiation still emanating from the zone. We're talking gamma rays here.
The probe casually reported to the team, "Hey, there's life here" and went about its merry way like nothing unusual was up. Okay, so probes don't really talk but the robot did find a carpet of black slime coating the chamber walls. The slime contained multiple species of fungus, all basking in the gamma rays like a lizard in the sun, except no lizard could survive the dosage the fungus was receiving.
The team collected samples, tested them in the lab, and found that the biofilm doesn't just tolerate gamma radiation, it grows faster under it
. The fungus's melanin changes its chemistry when hit by radiation in a way that looks suspiciously like photosynthesis.
In other words, this fungus cocktail doesn't just survive in Chernobyl. It eats Chernobyl for breakfast.