Antimicrobial activity of Manuka honey against antibiotic-resistant strains of the cell wall-free bacteria Ureaplasma parvum and Ureaplasma urealyticum

Lett Appl Microbiol. 2017 Mar;64(3):198-202. doi: 10.1111/lam.12707. Epub 2017 Feb 1.


The susceptibility of the cell wall-free bacterial pathogens Ureaplasma spp. to Manuka honey was examined. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of Manuka honey for four Ureaplasma urealyticum and four Ureaplasma parvum isolates was determined. Sensitivity to honey was also compared to clinical isolates with resistance to tetracycline, macrolide and fluoroquinolone antibiotics. Finally step-wise resistance training was utilized in an attempt to induce increased tolerance to honey. The MIC was dependent on the initial bacterial load with 7·5 and 18·0% w/v honey required to inhibit U. urealyticum at 1 and 106 colour changing units (CCU), respectively, and 4·8 and 15·3% w/v required to inhibit U. parvum at 1 and 106 CCU respectively. MIC values were consistently lower for U. parvum compared with U. urealyticum. Antimicrobial activity was seen against tetracycline-resistant, erythromycin-resistant and ciprofloxacin-resistant isolates at 105 CCU. No resistance to honey was observed with 50 consecutive challenges at increasing concentrations of honey. This is the first report of the antimicrobial activity of Manuka honey against a cell wall-free bacterial pathogen. The antimicrobial activity was retained against antibiotic-resistant strains and it was not possible to generate resistant mutants.

Significance and impact of the study: Manuka honey is known to have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity, with the bacterial cell wall being suggested as a predominant site of action. This study has demonstrated that Manuka honey has activity against Ureaplasma spp., a genus of cell wall-free bacteria which are intrinsically resistant to many available antibiotics making treatment inherently difficult. This is the first report of the antimicrobial activity of Manuka honey against a bacterial pathogen, in the absence of a cell well and opens scope for the use of components of Manuka honey as a therapeutic among Ureaplasma infections.

Keywords: antimicrobials; infection; microbial physiology; microbial structure; resistance.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Wall / drug effects
  • Ciprofloxacin / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Erythromycin / pharmacology
  • Honey / analysis*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Tetracycline / pharmacology
  • Ureaplasma / drug effects*
  • Ureaplasma / physiology
  • Ureaplasma urealyticum / drug effects*
  • Ureaplasma urealyticum / physiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Erythromycin
  • Tetracycline