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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2007 Jan;59(1):125-7. Epub 2006 Oct 28.

Habituation to sub-lethal concentrations of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is associated with reduced susceptibility to antibiotics in human pathogens.

Author information

1
Food Microbiology Research Group, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland BT37 OQB, UK. ma.mcmahon@ulster.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To investigate the effect of sub-lethal challenge with tea tree oil (TTO) on the antibiotic susceptibility profiles of significant human pathogens and commensals.

METHODS:

The study compared the antibiotic susceptibility (Etest) patterns of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus/methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and Salmonella spp. after broth culture for 72 h in the presence or absence of sub-lethal concentrations of TTO (0.25%, 0.25% and 0.1%).

RESULTS:

All habituated cultures (exposed to sub-lethal concentrations of TTO) displayed reduced susceptibility to a range of clinically relevant antibiotics compared with non-habituated (control) cultures.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although TTO may be an effective antimicrobial agent when appropriately used at bactericidal concentrations, its application at sub-lethal concentrations may contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance in human pathogens.

PMID:
17071952
DOI:
10.1093/jac/dkl443
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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