This study evaluated the influence of the essential oil from Origanum vulgare L. on the enterotoxin production, membrane permeability and cell surface characteristics of Staphylococcus aureus. The suppression of enterotoxin production occurred totally in the broth added with the essential oil at subinhibitory concentrations (0.3 and 0.15 microL/mL). Loss of 260-nm-absorbing material and potassium ions occurred immediately after addition of the essential oil at 0.6 and 1.2 microL/mL and followed up to 120 min. Electron microscopy of essential oil-treated cells revealed the formation of roles in the cell surfaces and loss of cytoplasm material. According to these results, O. vulgare essential oil could be rationally applied in food products both to inhibit the growth of S. aureus and to suppress the synthesis of staphylococcal enterotoxins.
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