The antifungal activity of seven essential oils (eucalyptus, clove, mint, oregano, savory, tea tree, and thyme) was studied on Venturia inaequalis, the fungus responsible for apple scab. The composition of the essential oils was checked by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Each essential oil had its main compound. Liquid tests were performed to calculate the IC50 of essential oils as well as their majority compounds. The tests were made on two strains with different sensitivities to tebuconazole: S755, the sensitive strain, and rs552, the strain with reduced sensitivity. Copper sulfate was selected as the reference mineral fungicidal substance. IC50 with confidence intervals were calculated after three independent experiments. The results showed that all essential oils and all major compounds had in vitro antifungal activities. Moreover, it was highlighted that the effectiveness of four essential oils (clove, eucalyptus, mint, and savory) was higher than copper sulfate on both strains. For each strain, the best activity was obtained using clove and eucalyptus essential oils. For clove, the IC50 obtained on the sensitive strain (5.2 mg/L [4.0-6.7 mg/L]) was statistically lower than the IC50 of reduced sensitivity strain (14 mg/L [11.1-17.5 mg/L]). In contrast, for eucalyptus essential oil, the IC50 were not different with respectively 9.4-13.0 and 12.2-17.9 mg/L for S755 and rs552 strains. For mint, origano, savory, tea tree, and thyme, IC50 were always the best on rs552 strain. The majority compounds were not necessarily more efficient than their corresponding oils; only eugenol (for clove) and carvacrol (for oregano and savory) seemed to be more effective on S755 strain. On the other hand, rs552 strain seemed to be more sensitive to essential oils than S755 strain. In overall, it was shown that essential oils have different antifungal activities but do not have the same antifungal activities depending on the fungus strain used.
Keywords: Biofungicide; Essential oils; In vitro assay; Venturia inaequalis.