The antimicrobial effects of 2 terpenes (citral and linalool) on a Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain isolated from spoiled soft drink have been evaluated, alone or in combination, in relation to pH and aw using in vitro assays. The obtained data were fitted with the logit model to find the growth/no growth boundary regions of the 2 terpenes, focusing the attention on the type of interaction exerted by citral and linalool. In particular, the results showed an increase of citral antimicrobial effect in growth media characterized by low aw value, as well as a higher linalool antimicrobial effect in media at low pH. Moreover, the interactive effects of the 2 terpenes were exploited. The results obtained with the model were validated in an independent experiment. The knowledge of the interactions of essential oil molecules with enhanced antimicrobial activity, in relation to some of the most important chemicophysical variables, can have important industrial applications, since these substances are able to assure the desired antimicrobial effect without negatively modifying the product flavor profile.
The effects of the main chemicophysical parameters (such as aw and pH) on the antimicrobial activity of bioactive terpenes are necessary for the definition of an industrially applicable preservation strategy based on the use of essential oils as natural antimicrobials aimed to prolong shelf life of food products.