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Phytochemistry. 2003 Jul;63(5):569-75.

Antimicrobial action of palmarosa oil (Cymbopogon martinii) on Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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  • 1School of Biosciences, University of Westminster, 115 New Cavendish Street, London W1W 6UW, UK.


The essential oil extracted from palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii) has proven anti-microbial properties against cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Low concentrations of the oil (0.1%) inhibited the growth of S. cerevisiae cells completely. The composition of the sample of palmarosa oil was determined as 65% geraniol and 20% geranyl acetate as confirmed by GC-FTIR. The effect of palmarosa oil in causing K(+) leakage from yeast cells was attributed mainly to geraniol. Some leakage of magnesium ions was also observed. Blocking potassium membrane channels with caesium ions before addition of palmarosa oil did not change the extent of K(+) ion leakage, which was equal to the total sequestered K(+) in the cells. Palmarosa oil led to changes in the composition of the yeast cell membrane, with more saturated and less unsaturated fatty acids in the membrane after exposure of S. cerevisiae cells to the oil. Some of the palmarosa oil was lost by volatilization during incubation of the oil with the yeast cells. The actual concentration of the oil components affecting the yeast cells could not therefore be accurately determined.

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