Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) essential oil: its antibacterial activity and mode of action evaluated by flow cytometry

J Med Microbiol. 2011 Oct;60(Pt 10):1479-1486. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.034157-0. Epub 2011 Aug 23.


The aim of this work was to study the antibacterial effect of coriander (Coriandrum sativum) essential oil against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Antibacterial susceptibility was evaluated using classical microbiological techniques concomitantly with the use of flow cytometry for the evaluation of cellular physiology. Our results showed that coriander oil has an effective antimicrobial activity against all bacteria tested. Also, coriander oil exhibited bactericidal activity against almost all bacteria tested, with the exception of Bacillus cereus and Enterococcus faecalis. Propidium iodide incorporation and concomitant loss of all other cellular functions such as efflux activity, respiratory activity and membrane potential seem to suggest that the primary mechanism of action of coriander oil is membrane damage, which leads to cell death. The results obtained herein further encourage the use of coriander oil in antibacterial formulations due to the fact that coriander oil effectively kills pathogenic bacteria related to foodborne diseases and hospital infections.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Coriandrum / chemistry*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Microbial Viability / drug effects
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Oils, Volatile