Grapefruit essential oils inhibit quorum sensing of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Food Sci Technol Int. 2020 Apr;26(3):231-241. doi: 10.1177/1082013219883465. Epub 2019 Nov 5.


Citrus essential oils are used in food to confer flavor and aromas. The citrus essential oils have been granted as GRAS and could be used as antimicrobial additives to control bacterial quorum sensing from potential food bacterial pathogens. The chemical composition and inhibitory activity of Citrus paradisi (grapefruit) essential oils obtained by cold-pressed method (EOP) and cold-pressed method followed by steam distillation, against Pseudomonas aeruginosa were determined. The GC-MS analyses of the oil indicated the amount of the essential oil components was highest with D-limonene in both cases. However, the extraction method modified the chemical composition. EOP had higher amount of coumarins and flavonoid as well as less oxygenated terpenoids. At 0.1 mg/mL essential oils were not able to modify the bacterial development but inhibited the P. aeruginosa biofilm production between 52% and 55%, sessile viability between 45% and 48%, autoinducer production and elastase activity between 30% and 56%. Limonene was less effective at inhibiting P. aeruginosa than the essential oils, suggesting a synergistic effect of the minor components. According to our results, grapefruit essential oils could be used as a food preservative to control P. aeruginosa virulence.

Keywords: Citrus essential oils; biofilm; food preservative; virulence factors.

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / drug effects
  • Citrus paradisi / chemistry*
  • Coumarins / analysis
  • Coumarins / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Food Preservation / methods
  • Food Preservatives / analysis
  • Food Preservatives / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Limonene / analysis
  • Limonene / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology
  • Quorum Sensing / drug effects*
  • Terpenes / analysis
  • Terpenes / pharmacology


  • Coumarins
  • Flavonoids
  • Food Preservatives
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Terpenes
  • Limonene