In-vitro antimicrobial activity and chemical composition of Sardinian Thymus essential oils


Dr Sofia Cosentino, University of Cagliari, Department of Experimental Biology, S.S. 554 Km. 4,500, 09042 Monserrato (CA), Italy (e-mail:


Essential oils and their components are becoming increasingly popular as naturally occurring antimicrobial agents. In this work the chemical composition and the antimicrobial properties of Thymus essential oils and of their main components were determined. Three essential oils obtained from different species of Thymus growing wild in Sardinia and a commercial sample of Thymus capitatus oil were analysed. The essential oil components were identified by GC/MS analysis. The antimicrobial activity of the oils and components was determined against a panel of standard reference strains and multiple strains of food-derived spoilage and pathogenic bacteria, using a broth microdilution method. The GC/MS analysis showed that the major constituents of the oils were monoterpene hydrocarbons and phenolic monoterpenes, but the concentration of these compounds varied greatly among the oils examined. The results of the antimicrobial assay showed that essential oils extracted from Sardinian Thymus species have an antimicrobial activity comparable to the one observed in other thyme oils. It seems also confirmed that the antimicrobial properties of thyme essential oils are mainly related to their high phenolic content. Among the single compounds tested carvacrol and thymol turned out to be the most efficient against both reference strains and food-derived bacteria. The results of this study confirmed the possibility of using thyme essential oils or some of their components in food systems to prevent the growth of foodborne bacteria and extend the shelf-life of processed foods.