Antibacterial Activity and Mechanism of Ginger Essential Oil against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus

Molecules. 2020 Aug 30;25(17):3955. doi: 10.3390/molecules25173955.


Though essential oils exhibit antibacterial activity against food pathogens, their underlying mechanism is understudied. We extracted ginger essential oil (GEO) using supercritical CO2 and steam distillation. A chemical composition comparison by GC-MS showed that the main components of the extracted GEOs were zingiberene and α-curcumene. Their antibacterial activity and associated mechanism against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli were investigated. The diameter of inhibition zone (DIZ) of GEO against S. aureus was 17.1 mm, with a minimum inhibition concentration (MIC) of 1.0 mg/mL, and minimum bactericide concentration (MBC) of 2.0 mg/mL. For E. coli, the DIZ was 12.3 mm with MIC and MBC values of 2.0 mg/mL and 4.0 mg/mL, respectively. The SDS-PAGE analysis revealed that some of the electrophoretic bacterial cell proteins bands disappeared with the increase in GEO concentration. Consequently, the nucleic acids content of bacterial suspension was raised significantly and the metabolic activity of bacteria was markedly decreased. GEO could thus inhibit the expression of some genes linked to bacterial energy metabolism, tricarboxylic acid cycle, cell membrane-related proteins, and DNA metabolism. Our findings speculate the bactericidal effects of GEO primarily through disruption of the bacterial cell membrane indicating its suitability in food perseveration.

Keywords: antibacterial mechanism; bacteria lysis-related gene; bacterial cell membrane; chemical composition; ginger essential oil.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / pharmacology
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Monocyclic Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile* / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile* / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts* / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts* / pharmacology
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Zingiber officinale / chemistry*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Monocyclic Sesquiterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • alpha-curcumene
  • zingiberene