In Vitro Activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) in Its Free Oil and Nanoemulsion Formulations Against Pythium insidiosum

Mycopathologia. 2016 Dec;181(11-12):865-869. doi: 10.1007/s11046-016-0051-2. Epub 2016 Aug 20.


Pythium insidiosum is an important aquatic oomycete which can cause pythiosis in both animals and humans. This microorganism shows low susceptibility to antifungal drugs available. This study analyzed the in vitro antimicrobial activity of Melaleuca alternifolia in its free oil (FO) and nanoemulsion (NE) formulations against Brazilian P. insidiosum isolates. The antimicrobial activity evaluation was performed by the broth microdilution method according to CSLI M38-A2 document adapted to phytopharmaceuticals. Twenty-six P. insidiosum isolates were evaluated, and the minimum inhibitory concentration was determined at 100 % growth inhibition. Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil or FO was obtained commercially. The NE containing 1 % M. alternifolia essential oil was prepared by the spontaneous emulsification method. All P. insidiosum isolates evaluated showed minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) ranging from 531.5 to 2125 μg/mL for the FO formulation; MIC50 and MIC90 showed values between 1062.5 and 2125 μg/mL, respectively. When the NE formulation was evaluated, MIC values ranged from 132.7 to 2125 μg/mL and both MIC50 and MIC90 corresponded to 1062.5 μg/mL. FO and NE formulations of M. alternifolia showed antimicrobial activity against P. insidiosum. This study demonstrated that M. alternifolia oil can be an additional therapy in pythiosis treatment; however, further studies are needed to evaluate the applicability of the plant essential oils in the treatment of clinical pythiosis.

Keywords: Medicinal plants; Nanostructured systems; Oomycete; Pythiosis.

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / isolation & purification
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Brazil
  • Emulsions / pharmacology*
  • Melaleuca / chemistry*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Pythium / drug effects*
  • Pythium / isolation & purification


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Emulsions
  • Oils, Volatile