Antimicrobial activity of extractable conifer heartwood compounds toward Phytophthora ramorum

J Chem Ecol. 2007 Nov;33(11):2133-47. doi: 10.1007/s10886-007-9368-0. Epub 2007 Oct 11.


Ethyl acetate extracts from heartwood of seven western conifer trees and individual volatile compounds in the extracts were tested for antimicrobial activity against Phytophthora ramorum. Extracts from incense and western redcedar exhibited the strongest activity, followed by yellow-cedar, western juniper, and Port-Orford-cedar with moderate activity, and no activity for Douglas-fir and redwood extracts. Chemical composition of the extracts varied both qualitatively and quantitatively among the species with a total of 37 compounds identified by mass spectrometry. Of the 13 individual heartwood compounds bioassayed, three showed strong activity with a Log(10) EC(50) less than or equal to 1.0 ppm (hinokitiol, thymoquinone, and nootkatin), three expressed moderate activity ranging from 1.0-2.0 ppm (nootkatol, carvacrol, and valencene-11,12-diol), four compounds had weak activity at 2.0-3.0 ppm [alpha-terpineol, valencene-13-ol, (+)-beta-cedrene, (-)-thujopsene], and three had no activity [(+)-cedrol, delta-cadinene, and methyl carvacrol]. All of the most active compounds contained a free hydroxyl group, except thymoquinone. The importance of a free hydroxyl was demonstrated by the tremendous difference in activity between carvacrol (Log(10) EC(50) 1.81 +/- 0.08 ppm) and methyl carvacrol (Log(10) EC(50) >3.0 ppm). A field trial in California, showed that heartwood chips from redcedar placed on the forest floor for 4 months under Umbellularia californica (California bay laurel) with symptoms of P. ramorum leaf blight significantly limited the accumulation of P. ramorum DNA in the litter layer, compared with heartwood chips from redwood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / chemistry
  • Antifungal Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Phytophthora / drug effects*
  • Tracheophyta / chemistry*
  • Wood / chemistry*


  • Antifungal Agents