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PLoS One. 2014 Nov 5;9(11):e110983. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110983. eCollection 2014.

Antibacterial activity and kinetics of Litsea cubeba oil on Escherichia coli.

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State Key Laboratory of Applied Microbiology Southern China, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Microbial Culture Collection and Application, Guangdong Institute of Microbiology, Guangzhou, China.


Litsea cubeba oil is extracted from the fresh fruits of Litsea cubeba by distillation. In this study, its chemical constituents, antibacterial activity, kinetics and effects against Escherichia coli were studied. Its minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) were both 0.125% (v/v) by toxic food method. Moreover, the antibacterial kinetic curves indicated 0.0625% (v/v) of litsea cubeba oil was able to prolong the growth lag phase of E. coli cells to approximate 12 hours while 0.125% (v/v) of litsea cubeba oil was able to kill the cells completely. Furthermore, transmission electron microscope (TEM) observation showed most E. coli cells treated with 0.125% (v/v) of litsea cubeba oil were killed or destroyed severely within 2 hours. The litsea cubeba oil might penetrate and destroy the outer and inner membrane of E. coli cells. Thus many holes and gaps were observed on the damaged cells, which led to their death eventually. The antibacterial effects of litsea cubeba oil mainly attributed to the presence of aldehydes, which accounted for approximately 70% in its whole components analyzed by GC/MS. Based on the antimicrobial properties, litsea cubeba oil would have a broad application in the antimicrobial industry.

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