Leonardo da Vinci’s Drawings Reveal Microscopic World

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Leonardo da Vinci is considered one of the best painters in history, and a new discovery has him in the foreground. The great Italian polymath from the High Renaissance lived about five centuries ago, and left a priceless legacy for humanity.

A team of researchers say that the findings of a diversity of microscopic organisms on da Vinci’s works could help in building a microbiome catalogue for artwork. Each of the pieces featured a unique collection of microbes that researchers could have identified it again.

Bacteria and human DNA found in da Vinci’s drawings

Seven of the drawings were examined for the biological material represented, and the researchers were astonished to encounter an impressive diversity of bacteria, fungi, and even human DNA on da Vinci’s work.

The scientists had to use a new tool called Nanopore for their discovery, meaning a genetic sequencing method that breaks down and analyzes genetic material at an accelerated rate. Thus, the detailed study of the various biological materials was possible.

But the biggest surprise was the high amount of bacteria from the drawings, especially by comparison with the fungi concentration.

“Altogether, the insects, the restoration workers and the geographic localization seem to all have left a trace invisible to the eye on the drawings,” the researchers wrote.

“[But] it is difficult to say if any of these contaminants originate from the time when Leonardo da Vinci was sketching its drawings.”

Leonardo da Vinci is best known for the Mona Lisa painting, but the religious painting The Last Supper that showcases Jesus Christ and His apostles is also definitely one of the greatest works of the Italian polymath. Let’s not also forget about the Vitruvian Man drawing, which is regarded as a cultural icon.

The new study was published today (Nov. 20) in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology here: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2020.593401/full

Source: livescience.com

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