Monoterpene isolated from the essential oil of Trachyspermum ammi is cytotoxic to multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus strains

Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2016 Apr;49(2):172-6. doi: 10.1590/0037-8682-0329-2015.


Introduction: The aim of this study was to determine whether an herbal extract containing monoterpene exhibited activity against multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolated from clinical infection samples.

Methods: The essential oil of Trachyspermum ammi (L.) Sprague ex Turrill (Apiaceae) fruit was extracted by hydrodistillation. Fruit residues were treated with hydrochloric acid and re-hydrodistilled to obtain volatile compounds. Compounds in the distilled oil were identified using gas-chromatography (GC) and GC-mass spectrometry (MS). The antibiotic susceptibility of all bacterial isolates was analyzed using both the disc diffusion method and determination of the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC). The sensitivity of antibiotic-resistant isolates to essential oil was also determined by using the disc diffusion method and MIC determination.

Results: Of 26 clinical isolates, 92% were multidrug-resistant (MDR). Aromatic monoterpenes (thymol, paracymene, and gamma-terpinene) were the major (90%) components of the oil. Growth of S. aureus strains was successfully inhibited by the oil, with an inhibitory zone diameter (IZD) between 30-60mm and MIC <0.02μL/mL. The oil had no antimicrobial activity against clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa; rather, it prevented pigment production in these isolates.

Conclusions: This study revealed that the essential oil of Trachyspermum ammi, which contains monoterpene, has good antibacterial potency. Monoterpenes could thus be incorporated into antimicrobial ointment formulas in order to treat highly drug-resistant S. aureus infections. Our findings also underscore the utility of research on natural products in order to combat bacterial multidrug resistance.

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apiaceae / chemistry*
  • Apiaceae / classification
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Monoterpenes / isolation & purification
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils