Austrian and Italian scientists, studying the microbiota on seven sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, unexpectedly discovered bacteria and human DNA. Their research is published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.
The molecular study of works of art is a popular area of modern science. A team of scientists from the University of Applied Sciences Vienna (Austria) and the Central Institute for Pathology of Archives and Books (Italy) applied an innovative genomic approach Nanopore, during which, to the surprise of the researchers, it turned out that the works of the master are dominated by communities of bacteria, not fungi. Although experts still believed that mainly mushrooms live on paper drawings.
Experts suggested that some of the microorganisms are the result of interaction with the drawings of the restorers, and some were introduced a long time ago through flies and their excrement. The predominant microorganisms in the sketches were Gammaproteobacteria of the order Pseudomonadales.
In addition, a large amount of human DNA was found. It is not possible to argue that it belongs to the greatest Leonard, since there is a high probability that these are traces of the work with sketches by the same restorers who have interacted with the drawings for many years.
It also turned out that both bacteria and fungi in the artist’s works have a connection with their geographical origin: some of them, for example, correlate with the microbiota of the Corsa Library of Rome.
The researchers hope that the new genomic approach will help create a bio-archive of works of art, where each drawing will have a kind of fingerprint.