Essential oils against multidrug resistant gram-negative bacteria


Multi-drug resistant uropathogens are responsible for urinary tract infections. The antibacterial activity of seven essential oils, oregano, thyme, clove, arborvitae, cassia, lemongrass, tea tree) was investigated by agar diffusion method, followed by determination of minimum inhibitory (MIC) and bactericidal (MBC) concentrations against five multidrug resistant isolates namely Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Enterobacter cloaceae, Morganella morganii, Proteus mirabilis. Oregano, thyme, cassia had antibacterial activity with inhibition zones ranging 25–39 mm; clove, arborvitae, tea tree and lemongrass 12–15 mm. The essential oils showed antibacterial activities with MICs ranged from 0.005% (w/v) to 0.5% (w/v). Thyme had the same MIC and MBC on all strains. The effects of the vapors of the essential oils were also tested by placing the oils on the underside of the Petri dish lid. Thyme, oregano and cassia essential oils strongly inhibited the growth of the clinical strains of bacteria tested in vapor phase. This study demonstrates the potential of investigated essential oils as natural alternatives for further application in hospital therapies in order to retard or inhibit the bacterial growth. For the first time antibacterial effects of essential oils (clove, arborvitae, tea tree, lemongrass, and cassia) were evaluated against Enterobacter cloaceae and Morganella morganii clinical isolates.

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Minimum inhibitory concentration


Minimum bactericidal concentration


Essential oils


Multi-drug resistant


Urinary tract infections






Tea tree










Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry


Dimethyl sulfoxide


Mueller Hinton broth














Ampicillin + sulbactam
























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The authors are grateful to Dr. Hana Drahovská (Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Comenius University, Bratislava) for providing bacterial strains. This study was funded by VEGA projects no. 2/0061/17 “Innovative disinfection strategies: the essential oils effect on microflora and materials of cultural heritage objects”.

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Correspondence to Domenico Pangallo.

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Bučková, M., Puškárová, A., Kalászová, V. et al. Essential oils against multidrug resistant gram-negative bacteria. Biologia 73, 803–808 (2018).

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  • Antibacterial activity
  • Essential oils
  • Multi-drug resistant bacteria
  • Uropathogens
  • Vapor phase