Some examples would be cosmic rays, neutron radiation, alpha radiation, beta radiation, muon radiation, and antimatter radiation.

Some related questions: How is non-electromagnetic radiation detected, and would it ever be evolutionarily beneficial?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE! Is any of these radiations naturally found in a habitable space? If no, then evolving ability to detect it would be senseless. And how would an organism know that it can see something that is not found nearby anywhere? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ @another 'Homo sapien', thanks. Off the top of my head, I can think of high-altitude birds & bacteria, organisms living near nuclear reactors & radioactive waste deposits, and organisms living in uranium mines. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ When people are exposed to radiation they can see flashes of light. An astronaut on board the MIR space station has told about this when he had to take shelter during a solar storm in a room with thick shielding. The light flashes are caused by protons moving through the brain, causing spurious electric signals in the visual part of the brain. So, you could say that you can become a walking Geiger counter when exposed to radiation. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ Increase in the mutation rate (single and double strand breaks) caused by those radiations is harmful for most life forms on earth. $\endgroup$
    – Memming
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ What exactly is antimatter radiation? Things like positrons are not gonna make it very far through our matter atmosphere. As for the rest, about the most any creature can detect is the noxious effects. I am not aware of any species which can directly "see" such radiation. It wouldn't be particularly advantageous anyway, since there are very few places on Earth where the radiation levels are not (relatively) constant. Perhaps in time, organisms like radiotrophic fungi may evolve to have more sophisticated detection mechanisms (though they use electromagnetic radiation, specifically gamma rays). $\endgroup$
    – forest
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 6:34

1 Answer 1


Some fungi have radiotropism; they grow toward radiation sources. Melanin-expressing (melanotic) fungi migrate toward radioactive sources, which enhance their growth. According to this paper.

These Melanotic fungi inhabit some of the most extreme habitats on earth such as the damaged nuclear reactor at Chernobyl and the highlands of Antarctica, both of which are high-radiation environments.

Radiotropism was triggered primarily by gamma radiation, but it is possible that both alpha and beta radiation could be “ sensed ” by the fungi as well.

It seems like these melanotic fungi can detect gamma and beta or alpha that they can use as energy source.


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