Antimicrobial activity of carvacrol related to its chemical structure

Lett Appl Microbiol. 2006 Aug;43(2):149-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-765X.2006.01938.x.


Aims: To investigate the relation between the chemical structure and the antimicrobial activity of carvacrol, eugenol, menthol and two synthesized carvacrol derivative compounds: carvacrol methyl ether and carvacryl acetate against bacteria, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Staphylococcus aureus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bacillus subtilis, a yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and one fungi Botrytis cinerea.

Methods and results: The antimicrobial activity was tested in liquid and vapour phases, by both broth liquid and microatmosphere methods, respectively. The same classification of the compound's antimicrobial efficiency was found with both methods. Eugenol and menthol exhibited a weaker antimicrobial activity than carvacrol, the most hydrophobic compound. Carvacryl acetate and carvacrol methyl ether were not efficient, indicating that the presence of a free hydroxyl group is essential for antimicrobial activity.

Conclusions: The different extents of antimicrobial aroma compounds' efficiency showed that hydrophobicity is an important factor and the presence of a free hydroxyl group and a delocalized system allows proton exchange.

Significance and impact of the study: This study has identified the importance of the hydrophobicity and the chemical structure of phenolic aroma compounds for antimicrobial activity and may contribute to a most rational use of these compounds as antimicrobial agent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Cymenes
  • Eugenol / chemistry
  • Eugenol / pharmacology
  • Fungi / drug effects*
  • Gases
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Hydroxides
  • Menthol / chemistry
  • Menthol / pharmacology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Monoterpenes / chemistry*
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Phenol / chemistry
  • Phenol / pharmacology


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Cymenes
  • Gases
  • Hydroxides
  • Monoterpenes
  • Menthol
  • Phenol
  • Eugenol
  • hydroxide ion
  • carvacrol