Antimicrobial activity in the vapour phase of a combination of cinnamon and clove essential oils

Goñi P, López P, Sánchez C, Gómez-Lus R, Becerril R, Nerín C
Food Chemistry, 2009


The antimicrobial activity of the vapour generated by a combination of cinnamon and clove essential oils against the growth of four Gram-negative (Escherichia coli, Yersinia enterocolitica, Pseudomonas aeruoginosa and Salmonella choleraesuis) and four Gram-positive bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus and Enterococcus faecalis) was assessed by means of the fractional inhibitory concentration index (FIC) of the mixture. The presence of synergism or antagonism effects depended on the reference parameter used to estimate such an index. If the minimal inhibitory concentrations were applied, the vapours of the combination of essential oils exerted an antagonistic effect on the growth of E. coli, while they wielded a synergistic effect for the inhibition of L. monocytogenes, B. cereus and Y. enterocolitica when the concentrations of maximal inhibition were used. This fact revealed a clear concentration-dependent interaction. The headspace of the cinnamon and clove essential oils and their combination was sampled by solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and the constituents identified and quantified by gas chromatography–ion trap mass spectrometry (GC/ITMS). Eugenol was the most abundant compound for the three antibacterial atmospheres. The differences in behaviour could be attributed to minor compounds. The combined headspace contained slightly larger amounts of 1,8-cineole and camphor, which are believed to enhance the eugenol activity. The mechanisms responsible for the antagonism are, however, less known and much further investigation is required. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time a combination of essential oils in the vapour phase has been tested as a preservative method to prevent microorganism proliferation.


Goñi P, López P, Sánchez C, et al. Antimicrobial activity in the vapour phase of a combination of cinnamon and clove essential oils. Food Chem. 2009;116(4):982-989.

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