Effect of Clove and Thyme Essential Oils on Candida Biofilm Formation and the Oil Distribution in Yeast Cells

Molecules. 2019 May 21;24(10):1954. doi: 10.3390/molecules24101954.


Candida biofilm structure is particularly difficult to eradicate, since biofilm is much more resistant to antifungal agents than planktonic cells. In this context, a more effective strategy seems to be the prevention of biofilm formation than its eradication. The aim of the study was to examine whether the process of initial colonization of materials (glass, polyethylene terephthalate, polypropylene) by food-borne Candida sp. can be impeded by clove and thyme essential oils, used at their minimal inhibitory concentrations. In the presence of clove oil, 68.4-84.2% of the yeast tested showed a statistically significant reduction in biofilm formation, depending on the material. After treatment with thyme oil, statistically significant decrease in biofilm cell numbers was observed for 63.2-73.7% of yeasts. Confocal laser scanning microscopy showed diverse compounds of clove and thyme oils that were disparately located in C. albicans cell, on a cell wall and a cell membrane, in cytoplasm, and in vacuoles, depicting the multidirectional action of essential oils. However, essential oils that were used in sub-inhibitory concentration were sequestrated in the yeast vacuoles, which indicate the activation of Candida defense mechanisms by cell detoxification. Clove and thyme essential oils due to their anti-biofilm activity can be efficiently used in the prevention of the tested abiotic surfaces colonization by Candida sp.

Keywords: anticandidal activity; biofilm; confocal laser scanning microscopy; essential oils; food-borne Candida sp..

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / chemistry
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Candida albicans / drug effects
  • Candida albicans / pathogenicity
  • Cell Wall / drug effects
  • Clove Oil / chemistry
  • Clove Oil / pharmacology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Syzygium / chemistry*
  • Thymus Plant / chemistry*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Clove Oil
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils