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Microorganisms 2016, 4(4), 42; doi:10.3390/microorganisms4040042

Dirty Money: A Matter of Bacterial Survival, Adherence, and Toxicity

1
Department of Food Science and Agri-food Supply Chain Management, Harper Adams University, Newport TF10 8NB, UK
2
School of Science and Engineering, Federation University, Ballarat 3353, Australia
3
School of Life Sciences, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, UK
4
College of Life Science and Technology, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Beijing 100029, China
5
College of Life Sciences, University College Dublin, Dublin D04 V1W8, Ireland
6
Faculty of Science and Technology, Eastern Institute of Technology, Taradale 4112, New Zealand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Andrew McDowell
Received: 3 October 2016 / Revised: 17 November 2016 / Accepted: 18 November 2016 / Published: 23 November 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2033 KB, uploaded 24 November 2016]   |  

Abstract

In this study we report the underlying reasons to why bacteria are present on banknotes and coins. Despite the use of credit cards, mobile phone apps, near-field-communication systems, and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins which are replacing the use of hard currencies, cash exchanges still make up a significant means of exchange for a wide range of purchases. The literature is awash with data that highlights that both coins and banknotes are frequently identified as fomites for a wide range of microorganisms. However, most of these publications fail to provide any insight into the extent to which bacteria adhere and persist on money. We treated the various currencies used in this study as microcosms, and the bacterial loading from human hands as the corresponding microbiome. We show that the substrate from which banknotes are produced have a significant influence on both the survival and adherence of bacteria to banknotes. Smooth, polymer surfaces provide a poor means of adherence and survival, while coarser and more fibrous surfaces provide strong bacterial adherence and an environment to survive on. Coins were found to be strongly inhibitory to bacteria with a relatively rapid decline in survival on almost all coin surfaces tested. The inhibitory influence of coins was demonstrated through the use of antimicrobial disks made from coins. Despite the toxic effects of coins on many bacteria, bacteria do have the ability to adapt to the presence of coins in their environment which goes some way to explain the persistent presence of low levels of bacteria on coins in circulation. View Full-Text
Keywords: banknotes; bacteria; substrate; coins; microcosm; microbiome banknotes; bacteria; substrate; coins; microcosm; microbiome
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Vriesekoop, F.; Chen, J.; Oldaker, J.; Besnard, F.; Smith, R.; Leversha, W.; Smith-Arnold, C.; Worrall, J.; Rufray, E.; Yuan, Q.; Liang, H.; Scannell, A.; Russell, C. Dirty Money: A Matter of Bacterial Survival, Adherence, and Toxicity. Microorganisms 2016, 4, 42.

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