Candida spp. cause significant health problems, inducing various types of superficial and deep-seated mycoses in humans. As a result of the increasing antibiotic resistance among pathogenic yeasts, the interest in alternative agents of antifungal activity is growing. This study evaluated the antimicrobial activity of selected essential oils (EOs) against Candida clinical and food-borne strains, including antibiotic-resistant isolates, in relation to yeast cell surface hydrophobicity (CSH). Candida strains showed different range of susceptibility to tea tree, thyme, peppermint, and clove oils, and peppermint oil demonstrated the lowest anticandidal activity with minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of 0.03-8.0% v/v. MIC values for thyme and clove oils ranged from 0.03% to 0.25% v/v, and for tea tree oil-from 0.12% to 2.0% v/v. The exception was Candida tropicalis food-borne strain, the growth of which was inhibited after application of EOs at concentration of 8% v/v. Due to diverse yeast susceptibility to EOs, isolates were divided into five clusters in a principal component analysis model, each containing both clinical and food-borne strains. Hydrophobic properties of yeast were also diversified, and 37% of clinical and 50% of food-borne strains exhibited high hydrophobicity. The study indicates high homology of clinical and food-borne Candida isolates in relation to their susceptibility to anticandidal agents and hydrophobic properties. The susceptibility of yeasts to EOs could be partially related to their CSH. High antifungal activity of examined EOs, also against antibiotic-resistant isolates, indicates their usefulness as agents preventing the development of Candida strains of different origin.
Keywords: MIC; antibiotic-resistant Candida spp.; antifungals; clinical and food-borne isolates; essential oils.