Antimicrobial activity of essential oils: The possibilities of TLC-bioautography

Györgyi Horváth, Noémi Jámbor, Anna Végh, Andrea Böszörményi, Éva Lemberkovics, Éva Héthelyi, Krisztina Kovácsc, Béla Kocsisc

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40 Citations (Scopus)


Essential oils are well-known for their antimicrobial activity against different plant and human pathogenic microorganisms. The results of the most commonly used antimicrobial assays are very different; sometimes their reliability is questionable, therefore standardized methods need to be used to solve this problem. The present study aims at the phytochemical characterization of some essential oils (thyme, lavender, eucalyptus, spearmint and cinnamon) that are important from the therapeutic and economic aspects and the optimized microbiological investigation of the effect of essential oils on human and plant pathogenic microorganisms. The chemical composition of the essential oils was analysed with thin-layer chromatography (TLC) and their composition was controlled by gas chromatography (GC). The antibacterial effect was investigated using the TLC-bioautographic method. The solvents applied in TLC developing systems were also tested. Our results showed that toluene, ethyl acetate, ethanol and chloroform as solvents used in the assay had no inhibiting effect on the test bacteria. The antibacterial activity of thyme, lavender and cinnamon oils and their main components (thymol, carvacrol, linalool, eugenol) was observed in the case of two plant pathogenic bacteria (Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria and Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola) and some human pathogens (Staphylococcus epidermidis, S. saprophyticus and two strains of S. aureus, including one methicillin-resistant strain). On the whole, the antibacterial activity of essential oils can be related to their most abundant components, but the effect of the minor components should also be taken into consideration. Direct bioautography is more cost-effective and compares better with traditional microbiological laboratory methods (e.g. disc-diffusion, agar-plate technique).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-182
Number of pages5
JournalFlavour and Fragrance Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2010



  • Antibacterial activity
  • Direct bioautography
  • Essential oils
  • Pathogenic bacteria
  • Thin layer chromatography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Chemistry(all)

Cite this

Horváth, G., Jámbor, N., Végh, A., Böszörményi, A., Lemberkovics, É., Héthelyi, É., Kovácsc, K., & Kocsisc, B. (2010). Antimicrobial activity of essential oils: The possibilities of TLC-bioautography. Flavour and Fragrance Journal, 25(3), 178-182.