Afraid of microbes? Then you should avoid ATMs
Whenever you withdraw money from an ATM, you also come into contact with microbes from other people. Researchers have now found that ATM input fields contain a multitude of microbes from human skin, traces of food and potentially new environmental organisms.
The scientists at New York University found in an investigation that the input fields of automated teller machines contain a large number of microbes and other contaminants. One could say that a cross-section of the DNA of all city dwellers can be found on the input fields. The experts published the results of their study in the "mSphere" journal.
DNA on keyboards represents a record of human behavior
Our results suggest that ATM entry fields contain microbes from various sources, the scientists say. These include, for example, human microbiomes, food, and potentially novel environmental organisms, explains author Professor Jane Carlton from New York University in a press release. Here, the DNA from these keyboards could provide a record of human behavior and the environmental sources of microbes.
Doctors examined samples from 66 ATMs in New York
Between June and July 2014, the scientists took samples from 66 ATMs in three New York boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. The sequencing methods showed, among other things, a number of human skin microbes.
ATM keyboards are contaminated with tons of microbes
The most common sources of microbes on ATM keypads were comparable to household items or items such as televisions, toilets, and kitchens, the authors say. In addition, microbes from chicken, fish and other foods have also been found. This suggests that residual DNA from meals sticks to people's hands. This is then transferred to their keyboard using ATMs. So in the future you might want to have a cleaning cloth for your hands if you want to use an ATM.
It makes no difference whether the machines are inside or outside
ATMs examined in laundromats and shops showed the highest number of biomarkers with lactobacillales (lactic acid bacteria). These are usually found in some plants or dairy products, the researchers explain. It is also particularly striking that the biomarker Xeromyces bisporus was found extremely frequently in samples from Manhattan. This is associated with spoiled baked goods. The experts added that there was no significant difference in the exposure to microbes in outdoor or indoor keyboards.
Microbial communities on keyboards are a cross-section of DNA
Since each of the keyboards in New York is most likely used by hundreds of people every day and additionally comes into contact with air, water and microbes from various urban surfaces, the microbial communities on the keyboards represent a cross-section of the DNA of the urban community, so to speak, the co Author Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello from New York University.
Samples had little diversity
Overall, the samples were of low diversity and showed no obvious grouping according to their geography. The relative lack of diversity between sites could be triggered by periodic cleaning of the machines that wipe out some of the microbes, the doctors say. (as)