Comparative phytochemical analysis and antibacterial efficacy of in vitro and in vivo extracts from East Indian sandalwood tree (Santalum album L.)

Lett Appl Microbiol. 2012 Dec;55(6):476-86. doi: 10.1111/lam.12005. Epub 2012 Oct 26.


Sandalwood oil has been found in numerous therapeutic applications in traditional medicines such as Chinese traditional medicine and Ayurveda. However, there are no comparative accounts available in the literature that focused on in vitro and in vivo tree sample-derived extracts. Combined dichloromethane and methanol extracts were obtained from in vitro samples, that is, callus, somatic embryo and seedlings, and in vivo from leaves of non-oil-yielding young and oil-yielding matured trees. Phytochemical evaluation of the extracts reveals that the tree is rich in terpenoids, saponin, phenolics and tannins. The antibacterial properties of the five extracts were compared with sandalwood oil by screening against nine Gram-negative and five Gram-positive bacterial strains by disc diffusion, agar spot and TLC bioautography methods. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) for sandalwood oil was determined to be in the range of 0·078-5 μg ml(-1) for most of the test micro-organisms screened. Bioautography results indicated the presence of potential antimicrobial constituents in somatic embryo extracts and sandalwood oil. Among the extracts screened, the somatic embryo extracts showed the strongest antibacterial activity comparable only with sandalwood oil and matured tree leaves' extract. The findings presented here also suggest that apart from sandalwood oil, other parts of this tree across developmental stages are also enriched with antibacterial principles.

Significance and impact of study: This study constitutes the first systematic investigation on phytochemical composition and antimicrobial efficacy of sandalwood tree across in vitro and in vivo developmental stages screened against thirteen bacterial strains by four methods. Using a battery of antimicrobial assay techniques, it is possible to follow the differential bioactive metabolic richness of plant parts, to decipher, for example comparable efficacy of somatic embryo extracts and sandalwood oil.

Keywords: Santalum album; TLC bioautography; antibacterial; extracts; in vitro; phytochemical; sandalwood oil; santalol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Santalum / chemistry*
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Tannins / pharmacology
  • Terpenes / pharmacology
  • Trees / chemistry


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Tannins
  • Terpenes
  • sandalwood oil