Antimicrobial activity of plant essential oils against bacterial and fungal species involved in food poisoning and/or food decay

Roum Arch Microbiol Immunol. Oct-Dec 2010;69(4):224-30.


The currative properties of aromatic and medicinal plants have been recognized since ancient times and, more recently, the antimicrobial activity of plant essential oils has been used in several applications, including food preservation. The purpose of this study was to create directly comparable, quantitative data on the antimicrobial activity of some plant essential oils prepared in the National Institute of Research-Development for Chemistry and Petrochemistry, Bucharest to be used for the further development of food packaging technology, based on their antibacterial and antifungal activity. The essential oils extracted from thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.), basil (Ocimum basilicum L.), coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.), sage (Salvia officinalis L.), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare L.), spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) and carraway (Carum carvi L.) were investigated for their antimicrobial activity against eleven different bacterial and three fungal strains belonging to species reported to be involved in food poisoning and/or food decay: S. aureus ATCC 25923, S. aureus ATCC 6538, S. aureus ATCC 25913, E. coli ATCC 25922, E. coli ATCC 35218, Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis Cantacuzino Institute Culture Collection (CICC) 10878, Listeria monocytogenes ATCC 19112, Bacillus cereus CIP 5127, Bacillus cereus ATCC 11778, Candida albicans ATCC 10231, Aspergillus niger ATCC 16404, Penicillium spp. CICC 251 and two E. coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis clinical isolates. The majority of the tested essential oils exibited considerable inhibitory capacity against all the organisms tested, as supported by growth inhibition zone diameters, MICs and MBC's. Thyme, coriander and basil oils proved the best antibacterial activity, while thyme and spearmint oils better inhibited the fungal species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Food Preservation
  • Food Safety
  • Foodborne Diseases / microbiology
  • Foodborne Diseases / prevention & control
  • Fungi / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Plant Oils