Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 21–22, pp 9013–9022 | Cite as

Chemical composition, antibacterial properties, and mechanism of Smilax china L. polyphenols

  • Meng Xu
  • Hui Xue
  • Xin Li
  • Yan Zhao
  • Lezhen Lin
  • Licong YangEmail author
  • Guodong ZhengEmail author
Applied microbial and cell physiology


This work aimed at investigating the chemical composition, antibacterial properties, and effect mechanism of Smilax china L. polyphenols (SCLP). SCLP was extracted and purified, and then, its eighteen polyphenolic compounds were identified by LC-MS/MS analysis. SCLP exhibited antibacterial activity against five bacteria (Salmonella typhimurium, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, and Escherichia coli) with minimum inhibitory concentration in a range of 195.31 to 781.25 μg/mL. Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus showed a higher sensitivity to SCLP. Notably, when combined with antibiotics, the SCLP–thiamphenicol and SCLP–gatifloxacin combinations showed additional properties against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, while SCLP–streptomycin and SCLP–penicillin combinations exhibited dramatically synergistic effects. In addition, the changes in permeability and integrity of the cell membrane and cell wall were observed by measuring UV absorption, extracellular AKP concentration, FTIR spectroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. It is speculated that the mechanism of action of SCLP on bacteria may be described as destruction of bacterial cell wall and cell membrane. In conclusion, SCLP was a potential natural antimicrobial substance with strong antimicrobial activity, which may reduce the use of antibiotics or combat drug-resistant bacteria through synergistic combination with antibiotics.


Smilax china L. polyphenols Antibiotics Antibacterial mechanism 


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81760157).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2019_10100_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (339 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 339 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jiangxi Key Laboratory of Natural Product and Functional Food, College of Food Science and EngineeringJiangxi Agricultural UniversityNanchangChina
  2. 2.Engineering Research Center of Biomass Conversion, Ministry of EducationNanchang UniversityNanchangChina

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