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The question is basically summed up in the title but here is some context:

Context

I got a character who has been genetically engineered to handle high doses of radiation exposure (50,000 grays) and I want to know the plausiblity of using radiotrophic fungus cells as organelles in human cells to sponge up the radiation and spare the cell alot of damage. Of course this will be working alongside many other engineered qualities (unh bones, high amounts of stem cells, back DNA, iodine, cancer cell targeting systems, etc...).

Question

What I would like to know is if this could possibly work?

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    $\begingroup$ Consider dropping "or if there is a better method of doing this?" part and adding reality-check tag. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jun 5 '18 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ Rather than the fungus itself, this character might have the same organelles as the fungus does. $\endgroup$ – Renan Jun 5 '18 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ Btw, iodine itself is not a protection from radiation. It is used to saturate the thyroid gland so that the iodine-131 does not accumulate there instead of normal isotope, The radioiodine is a fission product and gets released in case of nuclear reactor leaks. $\endgroup$ – Congenital Optimist Jun 5 '18 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ 50,000 grays This is an extremely high level of exposure. Over what time period is this supposed to be survivable for your organism ? What kind of radiation (rather important) ? Note that a dose of just 5 Gys over the whole body is generally considered lethal. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jun 5 '18 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ The question to ask here is: could the radiotrophic fungus you cited survive anywhere near 50,000 grays? Certain fungi may feed on radiation, but I would guess that some level of radiation will still kill them. $\endgroup$ – trevorKirkby Jun 6 '18 at 3:14
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The radiation will no doubt benefit the radiosynthesis-capable fungi, the protective effect for the rest of the body might however be insignificant.

Protection from the radiation can be achieved by shielding and damage repair. If the fungal matter is inside the human cells, it will probably not be much of a shield. Whether energy input from radiosynthesis could further the cell repair processes - that's something you could work on.

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I did a little reading about this during research for this question: What skin colour would living permanently on the moon select for?

Although the research on radiotrophic fungus is in its infancy, it does suggest that it's the presence of melanin in these fungi that gives them their radiotrophic ability. Similar to how melanin protects from UV light, the breakdown of melanin in these fungi via other forms of radiation provides them with energy: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677413/ and https://www.news-medical.net/amp/news/20110824/Melanin-also-protects-from-ionizing-radiation.aspx

The conclusion we came to in my question was that a possibly effective way evolution could protect against radiation exposure would be to ramp up melanin production. So, give your workers as dark a skin colour as you can possibly get (or just employ people of really dark skin colour which is simpler).

The bit where your genetic engineering might come in useful is that gamma radiation is far more penetrative than UV radiation. Melanised skin is effective against UV radiation because it stops there, whereas gamma will quite happily pass through your body and out the other side causing damage the whole way through. So, the conclusion we came to is that melanism throughout the body's organs would be beneficial. So black muscles, black bones, black organs. Melanise the lot!

You could also probably do something neat with radiotrophic fungi providing some energy if you like (engineer the appendix to contain a symbiotic colony perhaps), but if you want protection just cut out the middle-man and melanise.

I would definitely suggest lowering the radiation dose they're exposed to. I sincerely doubt they'd survive 50,000 grays over any extended period of time regardless of their adaptations.

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    $\begingroup$ +1. Also, there are many kind of melanin. Making people have one from fungi can be beneficial if it is better at stopping radiation, if it is optimized for that purpose (and I think it is) $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jun 7 '18 at 10:03
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well short answer, yes but your character would be exceptionally black, long answer, that can be made only by producing the high amounts of melanin that the fungus do, which in theory would shield the DNA, but in this case, for this to work, it would have to had melanin in all of his cells, his eyes, teeth, nails and basically everything would be black

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    $\begingroup$ funny I would have thought he would glow blue from Cherenkov radiation $\endgroup$ – Amoeba Jun 6 '18 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ maybe if you add lots of suet, other than that not really, radiation its just very high speed particles like mini bullets and melanin its like natural keblar, it catches all those particles, the Cherenkov phenomena happens because in water the speed of light its "slower" (not really but its way too long to explain) so this particles are going faster than light, the blue glow its the luminical version of a sonic boom $\endgroup$ – Eric Jun 7 '18 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ how much suet would be required? $\endgroup$ – Amoeba Jun 7 '18 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know the exact numbers but its not so much the amount as to the width of the drops, as they cannot be that big light doesn't slow that much in that amount of space so you would probably need a few orders of magnitude more of radiation than of a safe nuclear reactor, probably the levels only find next to the core without protection, at those levels even the air produces the Cherenkov glow $\endgroup$ – Eric Jun 7 '18 at 17:55
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Skin is an ecosystem. You could imagine an epidermal fungus hybrid, as our skin is naturally covered in bacteria and fungus, that would be engineered to be radiotrophic. As an extra layer of skin, it could act as a shield... You'd have to imagine a niche, feeding off dead skin cells or perhaps balanced with a symbiotic species it grows alongside and feeds off of.

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