In vivo bactericidal effect of Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil against Aeromonas hydrophila: Silver catfish (Rhamdia quelen) as an experimental model

Microb Pathog. 2016 Sep;98:82-7. doi: 10.1016/j.micpath.2016.07.002. Epub 2016 Jul 5.


Aeromonas hydrophila is one of the main causative agent of high mortality and significative economic losses in aquaculture and has become increasingly resistant to conventional antibiotics. One feasible alternative to control and treat it is the use of essential oils. This study aimed to evaluate A. hydrophila susceptibility to tea tree oil (TTO-Melaleuca alternifolia) in vivo, and the effect of this treatment. In vivo tests were performed using silver catfish (Rhamdia quelen) as the experimental model. Silver catfish were treated with TTO at 25 and 50 μL/L for seven days before infection. After seven days, the fish were inoculated with A. hydrophila via intramuscularly. Treatment with TTO at 50 μL/L was able to extend longevity of infected fish, and showed 88% of therapeutic success, even though it did not show curative efficacy. TTO treatment was not toxic under these tested concentrations, since biomarkers of hepatic and renal functions were not affected, and the concentration of 50 μL/L was able to prevent increased levels of aspartate aminotransferase. There was no significative differences regarding hematological parameters (p < 0.05). Treatment with TTO 50 μL/L was able to reduce histopathological alterations usually caused by this type of bacteria in the gills, but it was unable to reduce hepatic histopathological alterations. Our results showed, for the first time, that TTO has high activity against A. hydrophila and proved to be a natural alternative to prevent and control this pathogen.

Keywords: Aeromonas hydrophila; Antimicrobial action; Fish; TTO.

MeSH terms

  • Aeromonas hydrophila / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Catfishes / microbiology
  • Fish Diseases / drug therapy
  • Fish Diseases / microbiology
  • Fish Diseases / pathology
  • Fish Diseases / prevention & control
  • Gills / pathology
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / pathology
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / prevention & control*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Melaleuca / chemistry*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage*
  • Oils, Volatile / adverse effects
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Oils, Volatile