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Bioassay-Guided Isolation and Identification of Antimicrobial Compounds from Thyme Essential Oil by Means of Overpressured Layer Chromatography, Bioautography and GC–MS

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A simple method is described for efficient isolation of compounds having an antibacterial effect. Two thyme (Thymus vulgaris) essential oils, obtained from the market, were chosen as prospective materials likely to feature several bioactive components when examined by thin layer chromatography coupled with direct bioautography as a screening method. The newly developed infusion overpressured layer chromatographic separation method coupled with direct bioautography assured that only the active components were isolated by means of overrun overpressured layer chromatography (OPLC) with on-line detection and fractionation. Each of the 5 collected fractions represented one of the five antimicrobial essential oil components designated at the screening. The purity and the activity of the fractions were confirmed with chromatography coupled with various detection methods (UV, vanillin–sulphuric acid reagent, direct bioautography). The antibacterial components were identified with GC–MS as thymol, carvacrol, (−)-linalool, diethyl-phthalate, and α-terpineol. The oil component diethyl-phthalate is an artificial compound, used as a plasticizer or detergent base in the industry. Our results support that exploiting its flexibility and the possible hyphenations, OPLC is especially attractive for isolation of antimicrobial components from various matrixes.

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The authors thank Jun Fan (John Innes Center, Department of Disease and Stress Biology, Norwich, UK) for luminescent Pseudomonas syringae pv. maculicola, and József Farkas (Central Food Research Institute, Budapest, Hungary) for the Bacillus subtilis strain. This work was supported by OTKA grant No. PD83487.

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Correspondence to Ágnes M. Móricz.

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Presented at: 17th International Symposium on Separation Sciences. News and Beauty in Separation Sciences. Cluj-Napoca, Romania, September 5–9, 2011.

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Móricz, Á.M., Ott, P.G., Böszörményi, A. et al. Bioassay-Guided Isolation and Identification of Antimicrobial Compounds from Thyme Essential Oil by Means of Overpressured Layer Chromatography, Bioautography and GC–MS. Chromatographia 75, 991–999 (2012).

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