Antimicrobial Activity of Essential Oils

  • Marta Ribeiro
  • Manuel SimõesEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


The rise of multidrug-resistant (MDR) pathogens subsequent to antibiotic use, associated with increased mortality and a significant economic problem, has prompted researchers to exploit novel compounds that are simultaneously effective and safe and with the capacity to control the emergence of MDR microorganisms. The study of natural plant-derived products has been a successful approach for the discovery of new therapeutics. Essential oils (EOs) are a complex mixture of hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds, in which the active compounds of these EOs can be terpenes (mainly monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes), terpenoids, or phenylpropenes. EOs are recognized for their bioactive properties, including their antimicrobial abilities. In this chapter EOs are described from their chemical properties, extraction techniques from plants, and applications. Mechanisms of action and biochemical and molecular targets of EOs in bacteria, fungi, and virus are also discussed. Besides the well-documented antimicrobial activity of EOs, other significant biological properties of these compounds including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer, which make them promising agents in the treatment of different diseases, are described.


Anticancer Anti-inflammatory Antimicrobial Antioxidant Essential oils Extraction techniques Infections Multidrug resistance 



This work was the result of the projects: POCI-01-0145-FEDER-030219; POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006939 (Laboratory for Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy – UID/EQU/00511/2013) funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), through COMPETE2020 – Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (POCI) – and by national funds, through FCT, Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000005, LEPABE-2-ECO-INNOVATION, supported by North Portugal Regional Operational Program (NORTE 2020), under the Portugal 2020 Partnership Agreement, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LEPABE – Laboratório de Engenharia de Processos, Ambiente, Biotecnologia e EnergiaFaculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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