The Chemical Profiling of Essential Oils from Different Tissues of Cinnamomum camphora L. and Their Antimicrobial Activities

Molecules. 2021 Aug 24;26(17):5132. doi: 10.3390/molecules26175132.


Cinnamomum camphora L. is grown as an ornamental plant, used as raw material for furniture, as a source of camphor, and its essential oil can be used as an important source for perfume as well as alternative medicine. A comparative investigation of essential oil compositions and antimicrobial activities of different tissues of C. camphora was carried out. The essential oils were extracted by hydrodistillation with a Clevenger apparatus and their compositions were evaluated through gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), enantiomeric composition by chiral GC-MS, and antimicrobial properties were assayed by measuring minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs). Different plant tissues had different extraction yields, with the leaf having the highest yield. GC-MS analysis revealed the presence of 18, 75, 87, 67, 67, and 74 compounds in leaf, branch, wood, root, leaf/branch, and leaf/branch/wood, respectively. The significance of combining tissues is to enable extraction of commercial quality essential oils without the need to separate them. The oxygenated monoterpene camphor was the major component in all tissues of C. camphora except for safrole in the root. With chiral GC-MS, the enantiomeric distributions of 12, 12, 13, 14, and 14 chiral compounds in branch, wood, root, leaf/branch, and leaf/branch/wood, respectively, were determined. The variation in composition and enantiomeric distribution in the different tissues of C. camphora may be attributed to the different defense requirements of these tissues. The wood essential oil showed effective antibacterial activity against Serratia marcescens with an MIC of 39.1 μg/mL. Similarly, the mixture of leaf/branch/wood essential oils displayed good antifungal activity against Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus fumigatus while the leaf essential oil was notably active against Trichophyton rubrum. C. camphora essential oils showed variable antimicrobial activities against dermal and pulmonary-borne microbes.

Keywords: antibacterial; antifungal; camphor; enantiomeric distribution; safrole.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antifungal Agents / chemistry
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Arthrodermataceae / drug effects
  • Aspergillus niger / drug effects
  • Cinnamomum camphora / chemistry*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / methods
  • Monoterpenes / chemistry
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Plant Roots / chemistry


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils

Supplementary concepts

  • Trichophyton rubrum