Satureja montana essential oil (SEO) presents a wide range of biological activities due to its high content of active phytochemicals. In order to improve the essential oil's (EO) properties, oil in water nanoemulsions (NEs) composed of SEO and Tween-80 were prepared, characterized, and their antimicrobial and antibiofilm properties assayed against Escherichia coli strains isolated from healthy chicken. Since surfactant and oil composition can strongly influence NE features and their application field, a ternary phase diagram was constructed and evaluated to select a suitable surfactant/oil/water ratio. Minimal inhibitory concentration and minimal bactericidal concentration of NEs, evaluated by the microdilution method, showed that the SEO NE formulation exhibited higher inhibitory effects against planktonic E. coli than SEO alone. The quantification of biofilm production in the presence of NEs, assessed by crystal violet staining and scanning electron microscopy, evidenced that sub-MIC concentrations of SEO NEs enable an efficient reduction of biofilm production by the strong producer strains. The optimized nanoemulsion formulation could ensure food safety quality, and counteract the antibiotic resistance of poultry associated E. coli, if applied/aerosolized in poultry farms.
Keywords: Escherichia coli; Satureja montana L.; antibacterial activity; antibiofilm activity; essential oils; high resolution mass spectrometry; nanoemulsions; nanoformulation.