Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 755–768 | Cite as

Activation of Soil Respiration and Shift of the Microbial Population Balance in Soil as a Response to Lavandula stoechas Essential Oil

  • D. VokouEmail author
  • D. Chalkos
  • G. Karamanlidou
  • M. Yiangou


Lavandula stoechas, a native plant of Greece, is rich in essential oil and fenchone is its major constituent. We examined the effect of the essential oil and its main constituents on soil metabolism and microbial growth. Addition of the essential oil or fenchone to soil samples induced a remarkable increase in soil respiration. This was accompanied by an increase in the soil bacterial population of three orders of magnitude. This sizable population was not qualitatively similar to that of the control soil samples. One bacterial strain dominated soil samples treated with L. stoechas essential oil or fenchone. By use of the disk diffusion assay, we evaluated the capacity of three bacterial strains that we isolated from the soil samples, as well as Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis (reference strains), to grow in the presence of the essential oil and three of its main constituents (fenchone, cineol, α-pinene). The substances tested did not inhibit the growth of the strain found to dominate the bacterial populations of treated soil samples; they severely inhibited B. subtilis. The other two isolated strains could also grow in liquid cultures in the presence of different quantities of essential oil or fenchone. Addition of fenchone at the end of the exponential phase increased the cell numbers of the strain that dominated the bacterial populations of treated soil samples, indicating use of the substrate added. On the basis of these results, we propose a scheme of successional stages during the decomposition process of the rich-in-essential-oil litter of aromatic plants that abound in the Mediterranean environment.

Lavandula stoechas soil metabolism microbial growth essential oil 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Vokou
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. Chalkos
    • 1
  • G. Karamanlidou
    • 2
  • M. Yiangou
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, School of BiologyAristotle UniversityThessalonikiGreece
  2. 2.Department of Genetics, Molecular Biology and Development, School of BiologyAristotle UniversityThessalonikiGreece

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