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¿Qué bacterias hay en los billetes de dólar y qué enfermedades provocan?

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Los científicos han descubierto un sorprendente número de microbios presentes en los billetes de un dólar. Se trata del primer estudio exhaustivo de ADN aplicado al papel moneda en EE.UU.

Los investigadores de la Universidad de Nueva York han identificado 3.000 tipos de bacterias, muchas más que en los estudios anteriores que examinaron los billetes de dólar bajo un microscopio.

Además de bacterias, había virus, hongos, patógenos de plantas, rastros extremadamente diminutos de ántrax y difteria. Entre las bacterias encontradas figuran las famosas Staphylococcus aureus, Escherischia coli, Helicobacter pylori y Corynebactrium diptheriae.

Las especies descubiertas causan acné, úlceras gástricas, neumonía, intoxicación alimentaria e infecciones por estafilococo. Algunos de los genes hallados son responsables de la resistencia a los antibióticos.

A pesar de la cifra, aparentemente grande, del número de tipos de bacterias, los científicos lograron identificar solo un 20% del ADN no humano en los billetes de un dólar, porque muchos microorganismos no han sido catalogados en los bancos de datos genéticos.

«En realidad hemos encontrado que los microbios crecen en el dinero», dijo Jane Carlton, jefa del proyecto para secuenciar el genoma, citada por ‘The Wall Street Journal’.

Varios expertos en divisas recordaron a este diario que los bancos centrales del mundo por lo general se preocupan más por la falsificación y la durabilidad de su dinero, que por la microbiología. Sin embargo, en varios países, como Canadá, Tailandia y Bután, se imprimen billetes en hojas de polímero plástico flexible. Allí los niveles de bacterias son normalmente menores en comparación con los presentes en los billetes elaborados a base de algodón o papel.

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