Antibacterial and antioxidant activity of essential oil terpenes against pathogenic and spoilage-forming bacteria and cell structure-activity relationships evaluated by SEM microscopy

Molecules. 2014 Nov 3;19(11):17773-98. doi: 10.3390/molecules191117773.


The antibacterial activity and antioxidant effect of the compounds α-terpineol, linalool, eucalyptol and α-pinene obtained from essential oils (EOs), against pathogenic and spoilage forming bacteria were determined. The antibacterial activities of these compounds were observed in vitro on four Gram-negative and three Gram-positive strains. S. putrefaciens was the most resistant bacteria to all tested components, with MIC values of 2% or higher, whereas E. coli O157:H7 was the most sensitive strain among the tested bacteria. Eucalyptol extended the lag phase of S. Typhimurium, E. coli O157:H7 and S. aureus at the concentrations of 0.7%, 0.6% and 1%, respectively. In vitro cell growth experiments showed the tested compounds had toxic effects on all bacterial species with different level of potency. Synergistic and additive effects were observed at least one dose pair of combination against S. Typhimurium, E. coli O157:H7 and S. aureus, however antagonistic effects were not found in these combinations. The results of this first study are encouraging for further investigations on mechanisms of antimicrobial activity of these EO components.

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexanols / pharmacology
  • Cyclohexenes / pharmacology
  • Eucalyptol
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning / methods
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Cyclohexanols
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Terpenes
  • alpha-terpineol
  • linalool
  • alpha-pinene
  • Eucalyptol