Leonardo da Vinci DNA Project

The goal of the Leonardo da Vinci DNA Project is to conclusively determine if the remains purported to be those of Leonardo da Vinci at Amboise Castle are his, by comparing DNA profiles to those of known relatives. Further, we intend to use whole genome sequencing data from Leonardo’s remains to better understand his extraordinary talents and visual acuity through genetic associations. We also intend to use novel informatics approaches to create three dimensional images of Da Vinci using the genome sequence data. 

In addition to confirming the remains of Da Vinci, additional objectives include testing of samples obtained from private and or public collections of Renaissance Period art works. Currently we have completed pilot studies to confirm our ability to identify useful biological material from aging art samples, and investigated the microbial flora located on and within the artworks.

Using 16S sequencing, we have demonstrated a novel finding that there are differing bacterial communities when comparing artwork on wood and canvas, and microbes on stone/marble/plaster sculptures. We have also demonstrated that there are specific genera known for having oxidative positive strains present on paintings on wood and paintings on canvas that could potentially be responsible for deterioration and fading.


Funding for this project provided by The Richard Lounsbery Foundation.