Antibacterial activity of long-chain fatty alcohols against mycobacteria


Correspondence: Alok Kumar Sil, Department of Microbiology, University of Calcutta, 35, B.C. Road, Kolkata 700019, India. Tel.: (91) (33) 2461 4959/5277; fax: (91) (33) 2461 4849; e-mail:


Tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis and results in innumerable deaths across the world. The emergence of multidrug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis strains and its coinfection with HIV has made tuberculosis more difficult to treat. Therefore, new antimycobacterial agent(s) for both therapy and disinfection are urgently required. In this context the present study describes the antibacterial property of long-chain fatty alcohols against mycobacteria. The antimycobacterial activities of alcohols with chain length ranging from C5 to C13 were examined against Mycobacterium smegmatis mc2155 and M. tuberculosis H37Rv. The best activity was found with one with a C10 chain length. This bactericidal activity can partly be attributed to its ability to damage the robust and complex cell envelope of Mycobacteria. Moreover, our study reveals the ability of decanol to attenuate biofilm formation by M. smegmatis. This knowledge can be used to develop new therapeutics and disinfectants against mycobacteria.