Aims: To characterize antifungal activities of essential oil of thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) and pure thymol, as comparative substance, on different mould species isolated from damp dwellings.
Methods and results: Fifty samples of wall scrapes were collected from damp dwellings in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. The members of the following mould genera were recovered from the samples: Aspergillus (44%), Penicillium (18%) Alternaria, Ulocladium, Absidia and Mucor (8%) Cladosporium, Trichoderma and Rhizopus (6%), and Chaetomium (2%). Two strains of Stachybotrys chartarum were isolated from damp dwellings in Slovakia. Antifungal activities of the thyme essential oil, which contains p-cymene (36.5%), thymol (33.0%) and 1,8-cineole (11.3%) as main components, and pure thymol were determined by the dilution method and exposure to vaporous phase of the oil. Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of both thymol and essential oil were bellow 20 microg ml(-1), except for Mucor spp. (50.20 microg ml(-1)). Thymol exhibited approximately three-times stronger inhibition than essential oil of thyme. The vaporous phase of the thyme essential oil (82 microg l(-1)) in glass chambers strongly suppressed the sporulation of moulds during 60 days of exposure.
Conclusion: The thyme essential oil possesses a wide range spectrum of fungicidal activity. The vaporous phase of the oil exhibited long-lasting suppressive activity on moulds from damp dwellings.
Significance and impact of the study: Essential oil of thyme and thymol could be used for disinfection of mouldy walls in the dwellings in low concentration.