The outer membrane of Pseudomonas aeruginosa NCTC 6749 contributes to its tolerance to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil)


C. Mann, CBBR, Building L9, University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury, Sydney, NSW 2753, Australia (e-mail:


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is less susceptible to the antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil than many bacteria and its tolerance is considered to be due to its outer membrane. Polymyxin B nonapeptide (PMBN), which has no antibacterial action, was used to permeabilize the outer membrane. The addition of PMBN to Ps. aeruginosa NCTC 6749 markedly increased this organism’s susceptibility to tea tree oil and to its normally inert hydrocarbons, p-cymene and γ-terpinene.