Antimicrobial activity and chemometric modelling of South African propolis

J Appl Microbiol. 2015 Oct;119(4):981-90. doi: 10.1111/jam.12906.


Aims: This study reports on the inhibitory and bactericidal properties of 39 South African (SA) propolis samples and three propolis samples from Brazil.

Methods and results: Ethanolic extracts of propolis (EEP) were prepared and their antimicrobial activities tested using the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) assays. Some samples displayed substantial antimicrobial activity with MIC and MBC values as low as 6 μg ml(-1) against Staphylococcus aureus. The correlation between liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) chemical data and the antimicrobial activity of propolis extracts was investigated using multivariate data analysis tools. Orthogonal projections to latent structures (OPLS) models were created for the two Gram-positive bacteria (Enterococcus faecalis and S. aureus) and Candida albicans. Using the S-plot function, it was possible to identify the bioactive constituents in propolis as chrysin, pinocembrin, galangin and pinobanksin-3-O-acetate.

Conclusion: The SA propolis samples tested displayed noteworthy antimicrobial activity, favourably comparable to that of the Brazilian comparator and 'gold standard'. The observed antimicrobial activity of SA propolis can possibly be attributed to its flavonoid content.

Significance and impact of the study: Based on the good antimicrobial activity observed for SA propolis, this natural resource shows promise and should be considered for development which may contribute to growing the bio-economy in the region.

Keywords: South African propolis; antimicrobial; bactericidal; chemometrics; flavonoid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Brazil
  • Candida albicans / drug effects
  • Candida albicans / growth & development
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Propolis / chemistry*
  • South Africa


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Plant Oils
  • Propolis