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J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Apr 5;54(7):2745-9.

Changes in membrane fatty acids composition of microbial cells induced by addiction of thymol, carvacrol, limonene, cinnamaldehyde, and eugenol in the growing media.

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Department of Food Science, Division of Microbiology, University of Naples Federico II, Via Università 100, 80055 Portici, Italy.


Major active compounds from essential oils are well-known to possess antimicrobial activity against both pathogen and spoilage microorganisms. The aim of this work was to determine the alteration of the membrane fatty acid profile as an adaptive mechanism of the cells in the presence of a sublethal concentration of antimicrobial compound in response to a stress condition. Methanolic solutions of thymol, carvacrol, limonene, cinnamaldehyde, and eugenol were added into growth media of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Brochothrix thermosphacta, and Staphylococcus aureus strains. Fatty acid extraction and gas chromatographic analysis were performed to assess changes in membrane fatty acid composition. Substantial changes were observed on the long chain unsaturated fatty acids when the E. coli and Salmonella strains grew in the presence of limonene and cinnamaldehyde and carvacrol and eugenol, respectively. All compounds influenced the fatty acid profile of B. thermosphacta, while Pseudomonas and S. aureus strains did not show substantial changes in their fatty acid compositions.

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