Composition, antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of seven essential oils from the North American boreal forest

World J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2015 Jun;31(6):907-19. doi: 10.1007/s11274-015-1845-y. Epub 2015 Mar 24.


Essential oils (EOs) were steam-extracted from the needles and twigs of balsam fir, black spruce, white spruce, tamarack, jack pine and eastern white cedar that remained after logging in eastern Canada. These EOs, similarly to that from Labrador tea and other commercial EOs from Chinese cinnamon, clove and lemon eucalyptus, exhibited many common constituent compounds (mainly α-pinene, β-pinene, limonene and bornyl acetate) making up 91% of each oil based on gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis. All of these oils exhibited antibacterial properties, especially when examined in closed tube assay compared to the traditional 96-well microliter format. These antimicrobial activities (minimum inhibitory concentration ≥ 0.2% w/v), comparable to those of exotic EOs, were shown against common pathogenic bacteria and fungi. The antioxidant potential of the boreal samples was determined by the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical scavenging (concentration providing 50% inhibition ≥ 7 mg/ml) and reducing power methods. Finally, this investigation revealed some boreal EOs to be potential antimicrobial and antioxidant agents that would notably benefit products in the personal hygiene and care industry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Biphenyl Compounds / metabolism
  • Fungi / drug effects
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Picrates / metabolism
  • Plants / chemistry*
  • Taiga*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Picrates
  • 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl