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A comparative study of the antimicrobial activity of oregano, rosemary and thyme essential oils against Salmonella spp

Grammato Evangelopoulou

Department of Nursing, University of Peloponnese, Sparta, Greece

Nikolaos Solomakos

Laboratory of Hygiene of Foods of Animal Origin, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Thessaly, 224 Trikalon Street, 43100 Karditsa, Greece

Anastasios Ioannidis

Department of Nursing, University of Peloponnese, Sparta, Greece

Andreana Pexara

Laboratory of Hygiene of Foods of Animal Origin, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Thessaly, 224 Trikalon Street, 43100 Karditsa, Greece

Angeliki R Burriel

Department of Nursing, University of Peloponnese, Sparta, Greece

DOI: 10.15761/BRCP.1000197

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Abstract

The emergence of Salmonella resistance to therapeutic agents against human infections is attributed to their excessive use in the treatment of food-producing animals. The spreading of resistance necessitates vigorous research on alternative therapeutic schemes in order to replace commonly used antimicrobials. Thus, the aim of the present study was to investigate the inhibitory activity of three commercially available essential oils (EOs) against fifty-nine Salmonella strains belonging to fourteen serovars isolated from pig carcasses at slaughter. Their antimicrobial activity was compared with that of twenty-four commonly used antimicrobials previously tested against the same strains. The three chosen EOs were oregano, rosemary and thyme. Oregano and thyme EOs showed high antimicrobial activity, compared to that of rosemary and a better antimicrobial effect compared to that of commercial antimicrobials. The results showed that oregano and thyme have the potential of an effective alternative treatment against Salmonella spp., especially those strains resistant to synthetic antimicrobials. Thus, some EOs could be a safer alternative treatment against certain infections of food-producing animals or, perhaps, growth promoters, used for effective prevention.

Key words

antimicrobial resistance, essential oil, pig, Salmonella

Introduction

Food-producing animals are a widely recognized source for Salmonella species causing human infections. Pork meat and products are major sources of foodborne salmonellosis in the European Union (EU) and around the world. Subclinically infected pigs, incriminated for carcass contamination at slaughter, are causing 10 to 20% of human cases of salmonellosis in the EU [1,2].

The most important threat to human health is the emergence of multidrug resistant Salmonella strains, mainly belonging to serovar Typhimurium. Pigs are recognized as a primary reservoir of such strains, necessitating control measures for public health protection [3-7]. Unregulated use of antibiotics in farming practices for many decades, causing selective pressure, is thought the main reason for this emergence [8-12]. The amounts of antimicrobials used and the ways those drugs are administrated affect the resistance of gut microflora [9]. Therapeutics, such as ampicillin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, third generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones, effective for treating human Salmonella infection, are also administered to food producing animals, implicated in the transmission of resistant strains [13,14]. Thus, the spreading of multi-resistant Salmonella through mobile genetic elements has become a global threat to effectively treating human cases, particularly in immunocompromised individuals with increased susceptibility to accidental Salmonella infection [15,16].

The increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains promotes the investigation for new antimicrobial methods in order to control infections in animals. Among them is the application of plant essential oils (EOs) against a wide range of microorganisms [17]. EOs, also called volatile or ethereal oils, are aromatic oily plant liquid extracts recognized for their antimicrobial properties since ancient times and having recently re-emerged as safe, natural antimicrobials [18-22]. Research has revealed that the EOs’ high content of phenolic derivatives, such as carvacrol and thymol, target the bacterial membrane transport system, causing disruption at the cytoplasmic homeostasis, affecting finally cell respiration and the microbial enzyme system [23-25]. These properties of medicinal interest, in evidence of dangerous increases of microbial resistance to conventional treatments [26], has increased hope that EOs could become safe to public health when used as potential natural growth promoters (NGPs) for farmed animals. Specifically, their inclusion in animal diets for replacing antibiotics used as growth promoters (AGPs), could improve quality of gut microbiota thus, growth performance of animals and animal welfare [27], eventually contributing to consumer safety.

Τhe disinfectant and antibacterial properties of oregano EO were first recognized in ancient Greece, where it was often used for treating bacterial skin and wound infections. It was also used to protect food from the growth of bacteria. Oregano (Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum, a herb of the Labiatae family) is a plant that strives on mountainous terrain, from where it got its name meaning ‘Delight of the Mountains’ [28,29]. Carvacrol and thymol are the two main phenols, constituting about 78.85% of oregano EOs and responsible for the plant’s antimicrobial activity [30]. Carvacrol in particular, has been found by many as possessing remarkable antimicrobial properties [31-34]. In addition, other minor constituents, such as the monoterpene hydrocarbons g-terpinene and pcymene are also reported as contributors to the antibacterial activity of the oil [35]. There are, also, reports on the chemical composition and the antimicrobial properties of the EOs of various oregano species, and their application in different commercial preparations, as antimicrobials and antioxidants [32,36].

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) or ‘dew of the sea’ (Latin ros for ‘dew’ and for ‘sea’), is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae [37]. Its major constituents are 1,8-Cineole (26.54%) and α-Pinene (20.14%) [38]. This fragrant evergreen herb has been known since ancient times for its medicinal properties. It was traditionally used to boost the immune system [39]. Among the pharmacologically validated medicinal uses of rosemary are anticancer, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive, antioxidant, antithrombotic, antiulcerogenic, improving cognitive deficits, antidiuretic, hepatoprotective and antibacterial effects against Gram positive and negative microorganisms [38,40,41].

Thyme belongs to the genus Thymus of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and is a relative of the genus Origanum. Its EO contains more than 60 ingredients, most of which possess important antioxidant and antimicrobial properties [42]. The essential oil of common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) contains 20–54%  thymol, which is the compound [43] primarily responsible for its antioxidative activity, including Salmonella spp. [44], but similar activity have also carvacrol (2.2-4.2%), the monoterpene hydrocarbons p-cymene (18.5-23.5%) and g-terpinene (16.1-18.9%) [29,45]. These chosen to be investigated EOs are native to temperate Western and Southwestern Eurasia and especially the Mediterranean region [46] including Greece [47], with climatic conditions and geographical morphology promoting the growth of many species of aromatic plants. The antibacterial activity of oregano, rosemary and thyme has been studied against various multidrug resistant pathogenic bacteria, including foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella spp. and E.coli [29,48].

 Therefore, the objective of the present study was primarily to determine the activity of oregano, rosemary and thyme against 59 pig Salmonella spp. isolates and also compare it to the known antimicrobial activities of commonly used antimicrobials against the same isolates. The study focused on i) the investigation of the EOs’ inhibitory effect in relation to the amount used ii) the comparison of the effectiveness of each EO used and iii) the investigation of each EO’s bactericidal effect on the selected serovars as compared to commercial antimicrobials.

Materials and methods

Isolation, serotyping and antimicrobial susceptibility testing of Salmonella spp.

Fifty-nine (59) Salmonella strains, isolated from 615 pig tissue samples (ileum, mesenteric lymph nodes, faecal samples, gallbladder and neck muscle) collected from 123 pigs were investigated as described elsewhere [49-51].

The isolates belonged to fourteen serovars, which were 21 (35.6%) Salmonella Typhimurium, 9 (15.25%) S. enterica subsp. enterica ser. 4,12:i:-, 7 (11.86%) S. enterica subsp. enterica ser. 6,7:k:-, 6 (10.17%), S. enterica subsp. enterica ser. 4,5, 12:i:-, 3 (5.1%), S. Bredeney and from one isolate each (1.7%) for S. Agona, S. Derby, S. Infantis, S. Meleagridis, S. Cerro, S.enterica subsp. enterica ser. 6,14,25:-:1,2, S. enterica subsp. diarizonae 61:k:1,5, S. enterica subsp. salamae 38:b:1,2, S. enterica subsp. houtenae 40:g,t:-, while 4 (6.8%) were characterized as ‘Rough’.

The same isolates had been previously tested against 24 antimicrobials, routinely used for animal and human treatments [49,50]. The commercially available (Thermo Scientific™ Oxoid™) antimicrobial susceptibility disks used were amoxicillin (30 μg), amoxicillin/clavulanic acid (20/10μg), ampicillin (10 μg), ampicillin/sulbactam (10/10 μg), aztreonam (30 μg), cefotaxime (30 μg), cefoxitin (30 μg), ceftazidime (30 μg), ceftiofur (30 μg), ceftriaxone (30 μg), cefuroxime (30 μg), chloramphenicol (30 μg), colistin (50 μg), doripenem (10 μg), enrofloxacin (5 μg), erythromycin (15μg), gentamycin (10 μg), kanamycin (30 μg), nalidixic acid (30 μg), penicillin G (10 μg), rifampin (30 μg), sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (23.75/1.25 μg), tetracycline (30 μg) and tigecycline 15 (μg).

Antimicrobial activity of EOs

The disk diffusion method was applied for the determination of the antibacterial activity of the three selected EOs: oregano, rosemary and thyme (ECO PHARM, Greece, http://www.ecopharm.gr/index.php/products.html). The inhibitory effect of each EO was examined against three graded undiluted commercial EOs, according to Skandamis et al. [52]. Each bacterial culture was standardized to the range of 0.5 Mc Farland standard and inoculated onto Mueller-Hinton agar (LMLAB 39). Sterilized Whatman paper discs 6 mm in diameter (Difco, Becton, Dickinson, Sparks, MD) were impregnated with 5, 15 and 30 μl of the EOs. Disks impregnated in absolute alcohol were used as negative controls. Disks with EOs and the negative control were placed on the surface of petri plates inoculated with Salmonella. The cultures were incubated at 37oC for 18-24 h and the zones of inhibition were measured and recorded in the same way as for commercial antimicrobials. Specifically, bacterial growth inhibition was the diameter of the zones (mm) without bacterial growth. For the interpretation of the results, four groups of inhibitory zones were examined: i) no inhibition, ii) < 12 mm (weak activity zone), iii) 12 mm ≥ inhibition zone < 20 mm (intermediate activity) and iv) inhibition zone ≥ 20 mm (strong activity) [53].

Statistical analysis

The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17 was used for the statistical analysis of results. Statistical significance was set as p<0.05 or p<0.001.

Quantitative data were presented as mean and standard deviation and qualitative as percentage. The normality assumption was tested with the Shapiro Wilk test, since the size of each group was small [54]. To compare the mean between quantitative variables the Mann-Whitney, T-test and one-way ANOVA were used [55].

Results

Antimicrobial susceptibility testing

The previously reported resistance of the examined isolates [49, 50] against commercially used antimicrobials is re-reported with table 1 for a comparison with the findings of each EO's activity. As has been reported the highest proportions of resistance were observed for penicillin G, rifampin, tetracycline, amoxicillin, ampicillin and sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (52-88%). Medium resistance was observed for kanamycin, chloramphenicol and colistin. Twenty- six isolates (44%) displayed resistance to at least three antimicrobial categories, while all Salmonella isolates were susceptible to cephalosporins, quinolones, doripenem and aztreonam.

Table 1. Cumulative results of antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella spp. isolates recovered from pigs.

Antimicrobial

S.Typhimurium (n=21

S.I. 4,12:i:- (n=9)

S.I. 4,5,12:i:- (n=6)

S.I. 6,7:k:- (n=7)

S. Bredeney (n=3)

S.Agona(n=1)

S.Infantis(n=1)

S. Derby(n=1)

 

S. Meleagridis(n=1)

 

S. Cerro(n=1)

 

S.I. 6,14,25:-:1,2 (n=1)

S. enterica subsp. diarizonae 61:k:1,5(n=1)

S. enterica subsp. salamae 38:b:1,2(n=1)

S. enterica subsp. houtenae 40:g,t:- (n=1)

Rough(n=4)

Total No (%) of resistant strains

AML

12

8

6

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

3

31(52.54)

AMC

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1(I)

0

AMP

12

8

6

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

3

31(52.54)

SAM

1(I)

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2(3.4)

AZT

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CTX

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

FOX

0

1(I)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CAZ

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

EFT

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CRO

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CXM

4(I)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CT

2

2

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

0

0

7(11.86)

C

4

1

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

1

3

13(22)

DOR

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

ENR

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

E

21

9

6

7

3

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

4

59(100)

CN

1

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

4(8.1)

K

4

1

5

1(Ι)

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1(I)

1(I)

1

14(23.73)

NA

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

P

18

9

6

6

2

1

1

1

0

1

1

0

1

1

4

52(88.13)

RD

15,

6(I)

7, 2(I)

6

6,

1(Ι)

3

1

1

1

1

1,

(I)

1

1,

(I)

0

1

4

49(83)

SXT

10

7

6

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

1

4

31(52.54)

TE

11

9

6

1

3

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

1

4

37(62.71)

TGC

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1(I)

0

0

1(I)

0

0

Total N.

21

9

6

7

3

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

4

59

AML:  Amoxicillin; AMC: Amoxicillin-Clavulanic Acid; AMP: Ampicillin; SAM: Ampicillin-Sulbactam; AZT: Aztreonam; CTX: Cefotaxime; FOX: Cefoxitin; CAZ: Ceftazidime; EFT: Ceftiofur; CRO: Ceftriaxone; CXM: Cefuroxime; C: Chloramphenicol; CT: Colistin; ENR: Enrofloxacin; E: erythromycin; CN: Gentamycin; K: Kanamycin; NA: Nalidixic Acid; P: Penicillin; G: RD Rifampin; SXT: Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim; TE: Tetracycline; TGC: Tigecycline; I: Intermediate Resistance.

Antimicrobial activity of EOs

The in vitro antibacterial activity of EOs, against the Salmonella isolates, was qualitatively assessed by the presence or absence of inhibition zones and quantitatively by the zone diameters. The zones of inhibition for each of the 3 amounts of the EOs are presented in table 2.

Table 2. Inhibition zones (measured as mm) of the Essential Oils at different concentrations against Salmonella spp. isolates.

 

OREGANO

ROSEMARY

THYME

SEROVAR

l

15μl

30μl

l

15μl

30μl

l

15μl

30μl

S. Typhimurium

30

40

44

R

R

R

20

21

35

S. Typhimurium

30

42

43

R

R

R

20

28

31

S. Typhimurium

30

40

40

R

R

R

20

25

32

S. Typhimurium

30

32

35

R

R

R

20

35

48

S. Typhimurium

27

30

35

R

R

R

42

45

58

S. Typhimurium

26

32

40

R

R

R

40

42

60

S. Typhimurium

25

30

35

R

R

R

30

42

47

S. Typhimurium

25

32

42

R

R

R

40

41

60

S. Typhimurium

28

33

45

R

R

R

40

42

60

S. Typhimurium

30

32

35

R

R

R

20

40

50

S. Typhimurium

30

32

41

R

10

11

20

28

31

S. Typhimurium

33

34

40

R

11

13

25

33

36

S. Typhimurium

28

35

35

R

R

R

16

34

35

S. Typhimurium

27

40

40

R

R

15

35

50

50

S. Typhimurium

21

23

37

R

R

R

21

40

51

S. Typhimurium

27

37

50

R

R

R

22

22

60

S. Typhimurium

25

31

35

R

R

R

16

26

34

S. Typhimurium

22

30

40

R

R

12

11

12

37

S. Typhimurium

36

38

37

R

R

R

22

23

32

S. Typhimurium

22

31

41

R

11

11

24

33

44

S. Typhimurium

25

30

35

R

R

R

30

41

46

S.I. 4,12:i:-

24

36

40

R

R

R

28

38

40

S.I. 4,12:i:-

30

45

53

R

R

R

38

47

55

S.I. 4,12:i:-

30

42

56

R

R

R

35

43

55

S.I. 4,12:i:-

30

50

60

R

R

R

35

45

60

S.I. 4,12:i:-

32

33

43

R

R

R

40

43

63

S.I. 4,12:i:-

24

30

40

R

R

R

20

28

30

S.I. 4,12:i:-

21

30

38

R

R

R

30

32

40

S.I. 4,12:i:-

25

27

41

R

10

11

24

40

40

S.I. 4,12:i:-

20

30

30

R

R

R

40

40

40

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

40

42

46

R

R

R

40

44

47

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

30

40

44

R

R

R

20

22

30

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

30

30

45

R

10

15

28

32

42

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

25

38

40

R

10

10

20

21

35

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

27

32

45

R

R

R

25

42

45

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

29

30

34

R

R

10

20

22

30

S.I. 6,7:k:-

22

31

35

R

R

R

20

40

50

S.I. 6,7:k:-

22

31

35

R

R

R

20

40

50

S.I. 6,7:k:-

20

32

34

R

R

R

22

41

52

S.I. 6,7:k:-

22

31

41

R

12

12

25

35

40

S.I. 6,7:k:-

20

31

34

R

R

R

22

41

50

S.I. 6,7:k:-

21

31

35

R

R

R

20

40

50

S.I. 6,7:k:-

22

32

38

R

R

R

40

45

58

S. Bredeney

21

30

40

R

R

R

40

42

65

S. Bredeney

21

29

42

R

R

R

40

41

70

S. Bredeney

30

32

35

R

R

R

20

40

50

S.Agona

31

45

47

R

R

R

25

30

40

S.Infantis

27

33

43

R

R

R

35

50

50

S.Derby

27

40

40

R

R

R

25

42

45

S.Meleagridis

38

47

55

R

R

R

38

48

60

S.Cerro

25

30

35

R

R

R

30

33

40

S. enterica subsp. diarizonae 61:k:1,5

38

48

55

13

21

28

38

45

60

S. enterica subsp. salamae 38:b:1,2

40

40

50

17

26

28

30

34

50

S.I. 6,14,25: - : 1,2

30

42

50

14

30

50

40

50

50

S. enterica subsp. houtenae 40:g,t:-

30

44

46

12

15

25

30

44

60

Rough

25

40

50

R

R

R

40

40

62

Rough

29

36

40

12

30*

40*

40

40

56

Rough

29

30

34

R

R

10

20

22

30

Rough

30

35

42

10

25 *

38 *

40

40

58

Oregano and thyme gave in all tested concentrations (5, 15 and 30μl) large inhibitory zones ranging from 20 to 60 mm for oregano and 11-70 mm for thyme, while rosemary exhibited smaller inhibition zones, or it did not show any activity. The inhibition zones ranged from 10 to 50 mm (table 3). The negative control (absolute alcohol) did not inhibit growth for any of the tested strains of Salmonella spp.

Table 3. Statistical analysis of Ζone of Ιnhibition (ZOI) and the tested concentrations of 5-15, 5-30 and 15-30 μl for the antimicrobial activity of oregano, rosemary and thyme oils against Salmonella spp. Isolates.

 

OREGANO

ROSEMARY

THYME

Inhibitory activity

l

15μl

30μl

l

15μl

30μl

l

15μl

30μl

No Inhibition

-

-

-

53

46

42

-

-

-

<12 mm: weak activity zone

-

-

-

54

52

48

1

-

-

12 mm ≥ inhibition zone < 20

mm: intermediate

activity

-

-

-

5

2

5

2

1

-

 ≥ 20 mm: strong activity

59

59

59

-

5

6

56

58

59

Range Zone of Inhibition (mm)n ZOI

20 – 40

 23 - 50

30- 60

10-17

10-30

10-50

11 - 42

12 -50

30-70

Mean Zone of Inhibition (mm)

27.36

34.90

41.29

1.32

3.75

5.59

28.42

36,69

47,29

Mode

30

30

35

0

0

0

20

40

50

Std. Deviation

4,926

5,818

6,457

4,023

8,014

11,264

8,770

8,756

10,830

Statistical analysis

The findings are present in tables 3 and 4. All EOs showed a statistical significance between the Ζone of Ιnhibition (ZOI) and the tested concentrations of 5-15, 5-30 and 15-30 μl (F=240,95, p<0,001 for oregano, F=188,592, p<0,001for thyme and F=15,79, p<0,001 for rosemary). Specifically:

i) oregano: mean ZOI for: 5 - 15 μl (t=-12.660, df=58, 2-tailed p<0.001), 5-30μl (t=-18.828, df=58, 2-tailed p<0.001) and 15-30 μl (t=-11.502, df=58, 2-tailed p<0.001).

ii) thyme: mean ZOI for: 5 - 15 μl ( t=-9.389, df=58, 2-tailed p<0.001), 5-30μl (t=-8.685, df=58, 2-tailed p<0.001) and 15-30 μl (t=-10.385, df=58, 2-tailed p<0.001).

iii) rosemary: mean ZOI for: 5 - 15 μl (t=-3.791, df=58, 2-tailed p<0.001), 5-30 μl (t=-4.201, df=58, 2-tailed p<0.001) and 15-30 μl (t=-3.397, df=58, 2-tailed p<0.001) (Tables 3,4).

Table 4. Statistical analysis of Ζone of Ιnhibition (ZOI) and the tested concentrations of 5-15, 5-30 and 15-30 μl for the antimicrobial activity of oregano, rosemary and thyme oils against Salmonella spp. pig isolates.

Quantity

Essential Oil

t

df

p

 

5 – 15 μl

oregano

-12.660

58

<0.001

thyme

-9.389

58

<0.001

rosemary

-3.791

58

<0.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 – 30 μl

oregano

-18.828

58

<0.001

thyme

-8.685

58

<0.001

rosemary

-4.201

58

<0.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 – 30 μl

oregano

-11.502

58

<0.001

thyme

-10.385

58

<0.001

rosemary

-3.397

58

<0.001

 Repeated Measures ANOVA showed that the kind of the EO employed, affects significantly the width of ZOI (F=457,8, p<0,001) (Table 5). Analytically, the mean ZOI of 5 and 15 μl differed significantly between oregano and rosemary (t=40,558, df=58, 2-tailed p<0,001) and between rosemary and thyme (t=-24.612, df=58, 2-tailed p<0.001). No significance was observed between oregano and thyme (t=-0.883, df=58, 2-tailed p=0.381). However, a statistical significance was observed for the ZOI among the three pairs of the EOs (95% CI) at the concentrate of 30 μl.

Table 5. Repeated Measures ANOVA comparing in pairs the antimicrobial activity of oregano, rosemary and thyme oils against Salmonella spp. isolates recovered from pigs

quantity

pairs

t

df

p

 

5ml

oregano - rosemary

40,558

58

<0.001

oregano - thyme

-0,883

58

0,381

rosemary- thyme

-24.612

58

<0.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

15ml

oregano - rosemary

27,006

58

<0.001

oregano - thyme

-1,414

58

0,163

rosemary- thyme

-22,642

58

<0.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 ml

oregano - rosemary

23,544

58

<0.001

oregano - thyme

-4,486

58

<0.001

rosemary- thyme

-21,161

58

<0.001

Analysis of one-way variance showed a statistical significance among Salmonella serovars and the effect of oregano, rosemary and thyme (Sig.=0.009, Sig.<0.001, Sig.<0.001, respectively).

Discussion and conclusion

The use of antimicrobials, such as penicillin, tetracycline and their newer compounds is critical in guarding human and animal health [56]. However, their excessive use in veterinary medicine during the past decades has led, due to selection pressures, to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria transmitted to humans through the food chain [57].

The reported proportion [13,14,58-60] of Salmonella resistance to tetracycline, amoxicillin, ampicillin, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim and chloramphenicol, antimicrobials considered as Highly Important for Human Health [61], is reflecting the extensive use of such agents in pig production in Greece and across Europe [62]. Specifically, their use as growth promoters negatively affects the typical gut microflora, allowing the preferential colonization of the gut by organisms such as Salmonella spp. This colonization is making pigs an important risk for the contamination of pork carcasses and eventually pork products [63]. Among Salmonella serovars the monophasic S. Typhimurium has exhibited the highest antimicrobial resistance across Europe and in Greece [4,64,65].

WHO reports Salmonella spp. as one of the most prevalent bacterial species causing food-borne disease and a major health threat due to fast developing antimicrobial resistance [61]. The spreading of such resistant strains hampers the therapeutic possibilities of human Salmonella infections increasing the need of alternative treatments replacing commonly used antimicrobials in animal production. Thus, an increasing number of researchers give evidence of the EOs’ potential inhibitory activity against pathogens, such as Salmonella spp. [18,27], reporting them as ‘Generally Regarded As Safe’ (GRAS) for both animals and humans, because they do not promote antimicrobial resistance, as observed with the long-term use of synthetic antibiotics [66,67]. In the present study, the evaluated EOs showed varying degrees of bactericidal ability against the tested Salmonella isolates at different treatment amounts. Rosemary was found less potential compared to oregano and thyme. Oregano and thyme showed high inhibitory effect, even for the very small amount of 5 μl (Table 2 and 3) against all the salmonellae tested. An example is thyme oil, which at the amount of 30 μl produced the largest ZOI in the study (70 mm) and showed the greatest mean ZOI (47.29 mm).

The obtained results showed that the inhibitory effect was dependent on the amount of the EO employed, showing that ZOI differed significantly only for the amount of 30 μl, with regards to the EO employed. This is of minor importance, because both oregano and thyme showed strong activity (>20mm) for this particular amount. The Salmonella serovar appearing dependent on the EO used, was the monophasic variant of S. Typhimurium, S. enterica subsp. enterica ser. 4,12:i:-. This serovar was more sensitive against oregano and thyme EOs (Table 2, Figures 1-3). A comparison of the antibacterial activity of these EOs with that of commonly used antimicrobials, showed that the EOs have a better killing ability against Salmonella isolates, independent of the level of resistance to commercially used antibiotics, an observation similar to that reported by Mayaud et al. [68]. The present findings, although in vitro, suggest that the tested ΕΟs rich in thymol and carvacrol could control a wide range of microbes, becoming potential alternatives to commonly used antimicrobials. However, their effectiveness in animals, when administrated orally, must be experimentally demonstrated in vivo as to the maximum amount of EO administrated for avoiding toxicity or affecting the gut microflora. In addition, a standardization of the methodology to evaluate their inhibitory activity should be established.

Figure 1. Estimated marginal means of Salmonella serovars with regards to thyme EO

Figure 2. Estimated marginal means of  Salmonella serovars with regards to oregano EO

Figure 3. Estimated marginal means of Salmonella serovars with regards to rosemary EO.

The unnecessary use of antibiotics has been a major promoter of the emergence and transmission of drug-resistant bacterial strains. Resistance to antimicrobials, whether attributed to animal or human excessive use, demonstrates the dynamic evolution of microorganisms’ response to the hostile environment of antibiotics becoming a threat to human health. The food animal reservoir of such strains is an important source for human infections. By eliminating the use of drugs important for human medicine in animals, through the administration of EOs, the prevalence of resistant isolates could be reduced for the benefit of consumers.

In conclusion, EOs should be considered possible alternatives to synthetic drugs, administrated as growth promoters. The exploitation of EOs as potential growth promoters in animals is the new hope of using phytopharmaceuticals against multidrug-resistant microorganisms. The present results add to the knowledge of previous studies, encouraging for more research into establishing EOs as reliable curative agents.

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Editorial Information

Editor-in-Chief

Cory J. Xian
University of South Australia

Article Type

Case Report

Publication history

Received date: December 06, 2019
Accepted date: December 20, 2019
Published date: December 23, 2019

Copyright

©2019 Evangelopoulou E. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Citation

Evangelopoulou E, Solomakos N, Ioannidis A, Pexara A, Burriel AR (2019) A comparative study of the antimicrobial activity of oregano, rosemary and thyme essential oils against Salmonella spp. Biomed Res Clin Prac 4: DOI: 10.15761/BRCP.1000197

Corresponding author

Grammato Evangelopoulou

Department of Nursing, Faculty of Human Movement and Quality of Life Sciences, Laboratory of Integrated Healthcare, University of Peloponnese, Sparta, Greece

Figure 1. Estimated marginal means of Salmonella serovars with regards to thyme EO

Figure 2. Estimated marginal means of  Salmonella serovars with regards to oregano EO

Figure 3. Estimated marginal means of Salmonella serovars with regards to rosemary EO.

Table 1. Cumulative results of antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella spp. isolates recovered from pigs.

Antimicrobial

S.Typhimurium (n=21

S.I. 4,12:i:- (n=9)

S.I. 4,5,12:i:- (n=6)

S.I. 6,7:k:- (n=7)

S. Bredeney (n=3)

S.Agona(n=1)

S.Infantis(n=1)

S. Derby(n=1)

 

S. Meleagridis(n=1)

 

S. Cerro(n=1)

 

S.I. 6,14,25:-:1,2 (n=1)

S. enterica subsp. diarizonae 61:k:1,5(n=1)

S. enterica subsp. salamae 38:b:1,2(n=1)

S. enterica subsp. houtenae 40:g,t:- (n=1)

Rough(n=4)

Total No (%) of resistant strains

AML

12

8

6

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

3

31(52.54)

AMC

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1(I)

0

AMP

12

8

6

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

3

31(52.54)

SAM

1(I)

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2(3.4)

AZT

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CTX

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

FOX

0

1(I)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CAZ

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

EFT

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CRO

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CXM

4(I)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

CT

2

2

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

0

0

7(11.86)

C

4

1

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

1

3

13(22)

DOR

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

ENR

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

E

21

9

6

7

3

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

4

59(100)

CN

1

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

4(8.1)

K

4

1

5

1(Ι)

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1(I)

1(I)

1

14(23.73)

NA

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

P

18

9

6

6

2

1

1

1

0

1

1

0

1

1

4

52(88.13)

RD

15,

6(I)

7, 2(I)

6

6,

1(Ι)

3

1

1

1

1

1,

(I)

1

1,

(I)

0

1

4

49(83)

SXT

10

7

6

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

1

4

31(52.54)

TE

11

9

6

1

3

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

1

4

37(62.71)

TGC

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1(I)

0

0

1(I)

0

0

Total N.

21

9

6

7

3

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

4

59

AML:  Amoxicillin; AMC: Amoxicillin-Clavulanic Acid; AMP: Ampicillin; SAM: Ampicillin-Sulbactam; AZT: Aztreonam; CTX: Cefotaxime; FOX: Cefoxitin; CAZ: Ceftazidime; EFT: Ceftiofur; CRO: Ceftriaxone; CXM: Cefuroxime; C: Chloramphenicol; CT: Colistin; ENR: Enrofloxacin; E: erythromycin; CN: Gentamycin; K: Kanamycin; NA: Nalidixic Acid; P: Penicillin; G: RD Rifampin; SXT: Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim; TE: Tetracycline; TGC: Tigecycline; I: Intermediate Resistance.

Table 2. Inhibition zones (measured as mm) of the Essential Oils at different concentrations against Salmonella spp. isolates.

 

OREGANO

ROSEMARY

THYME

SEROVAR

l

15μl

30μl

l

15μl

30μl

l

15μl

30μl

S. Typhimurium

30

40

44

R

R

R

20

21

35

S. Typhimurium

30

42

43

R

R

R

20

28

31

S. Typhimurium

30

40

40

R

R

R

20

25

32

S. Typhimurium

30

32

35

R

R

R

20

35

48

S. Typhimurium

27

30

35

R

R

R

42

45

58

S. Typhimurium

26

32

40

R

R

R

40

42

60

S. Typhimurium

25

30

35

R

R

R

30

42

47

S. Typhimurium

25

32

42

R

R

R

40

41

60

S. Typhimurium

28

33

45

R

R

R

40

42

60

S. Typhimurium

30

32

35

R

R

R

20

40

50

S. Typhimurium

30

32

41

R

10

11

20

28

31

S. Typhimurium

33

34

40

R

11

13

25

33

36

S. Typhimurium

28

35

35

R

R

R

16

34

35

S. Typhimurium

27

40

40

R

R

15

35

50

50

S. Typhimurium

21

23

37

R

R

R

21

40

51

S. Typhimurium

27

37

50

R

R

R

22

22

60

S. Typhimurium

25

31

35

R

R

R

16

26

34

S. Typhimurium

22

30

40

R

R

12

11

12

37

S. Typhimurium

36

38

37

R

R

R

22

23

32

S. Typhimurium

22

31

41

R

11

11

24

33

44

S. Typhimurium

25

30

35

R

R

R

30

41

46

S.I. 4,12:i:-

24

36

40

R

R

R

28

38

40

S.I. 4,12:i:-

30

45

53

R

R

R

38

47

55

S.I. 4,12:i:-

30

42

56

R

R

R

35

43

55

S.I. 4,12:i:-

30

50

60

R

R

R

35

45

60

S.I. 4,12:i:-

32

33

43

R

R

R

40

43

63

S.I. 4,12:i:-

24

30

40

R

R

R

20

28

30

S.I. 4,12:i:-

21

30

38

R

R

R

30

32

40

S.I. 4,12:i:-

25

27

41

R

10

11

24

40

40

S.I. 4,12:i:-

20

30

30

R

R

R

40

40

40

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

40

42

46

R

R

R

40

44

47

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

30

40

44

R

R

R

20

22

30

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

30

30

45

R

10

15

28

32

42

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

25

38

40

R

10

10

20

21

35

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

27

32

45

R

R

R

25

42

45

S.I. 4,5,12:i:-

29

30

34

R

R

10

20

22

30

S.I. 6,7:k:-

22

31

35

R

R

R

20

40

50

S.I. 6,7:k:-

22

31

35

R

R

R

20

40

50

S.I. 6,7:k:-

20

32

34

R

R

R

22

41

52

S.I. 6,7:k:-

22

31

41

R

12

12

25

35

40

S.I. 6,7:k:-

20

31

34

R

R

R

22

41

50

S.I. 6,7:k:-

21

31

35

R

R

R

20

40

50

S.I. 6,7:k:-

22

32

38

R

R

R

40

45

58

S. Bredeney

21

30

40

R

R

R

40

42

65

S. Bredeney

21

29

42

R

R

R

40

41

70

S. Bredeney

30

32

35

R

R

R

20

40

50

S.Agona

31

45

47

R

R

R

25

30

40

S.Infantis

27

33

43

R

R

R

35

50

50

S.Derby

27

40

40

R

R

R

25

42

45

S.Meleagridis

38

47

55

R

R

R

38

48

60

S.Cerro

25

30

35

R

R

R

30

33

40

S. enterica subsp. diarizonae 61:k:1,5

38

48

55

13

21

28

38

45

60

S. enterica subsp. salamae 38:b:1,2

40

40

50

17

26

28

30

34

50

S.I. 6,14,25: - : 1,2

30

42

50

14

30

50

40

50

50

S. enterica subsp. houtenae 40:g,t:-

30

44

46

12

15

25

30

44

60

Rough

25

40

50

R

R

R

40

40

62

Rough

29

36

40

12

30*

40*

40

40

56

Rough

29

30

34

R

R

10

20

22

30

Rough

30

35

42

10

25 *

38 *

40

40

58

Table 3. Statistical analysis of Ζone of Ιnhibition (ZOI) and the tested concentrations of 5-15, 5-30 and 15-30 μl for the antimicrobial activity of oregano, rosemary and thyme oils against Salmonella spp. Isolates.

 

OREGANO

ROSEMARY

THYME

Inhibitory activity

l

15μl

30μl

l

15μl

30μl

l

15μl

30μl

No Inhibition

-

-

-

53

46

42

-

-

-

<12 mm: weak activity zone

-

-

-

54

52

48

1

-

-

12 mm ≥ inhibition zone < 20

mm: intermediate

activity

-

-

-

5

2

5

2

1

-

 ≥ 20 mm: strong activity

59

59

59

-

5

6

56

58

59

Range Zone of Inhibition (mm)n ZOI

20 – 40

 23 - 50

30- 60

10-17

10-30

10-50

11 - 42

12 -50

30-70

Mean Zone of Inhibition (mm)

27.36

34.90

41.29

1.32

3.75

5.59

28.42

36,69

47,29

Mode

30

30

35

0

0

0

20

40

50

Std. Deviation

4,926

5,818

6,457

4,023

8,014

11,264

8,770

8,756

10,830

Table 4. Statistical analysis of Ζone of Ιnhibition (ZOI) and the tested concentrations of 5-15, 5-30 and 15-30 μl for the antimicrobial activity of oregano, rosemary and thyme oils against Salmonella spp. pig isolates.

Quantity

Essential Oil

t

df

p

 

5 – 15 μl

oregano

-12.660

58

<0.001

thyme

-9.389

58

<0.001

rosemary

-3.791

58

<0.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 – 30 μl

oregano

-18.828

58

<0.001

thyme

-8.685

58

<0.001

rosemary

-4.201

58

<0.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 – 30 μl

oregano

-11.502

58

<0.001

thyme

-10.385

58

<0.001

rosemary

-3.397

58

<0.001

Table 5. Repeated Measures ANOVA comparing in pairs the antimicrobial activity of oregano, rosemary and thyme oils against Salmonella spp. isolates recovered from pigs

quantity

pairs

t

df

p

 

5ml

oregano - rosemary

40,558

58

<0.001

oregano - thyme

-0,883

58

0,381

rosemary- thyme

-24.612

58

<0.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

15ml

oregano - rosemary

27,006

58

<0.001

oregano - thyme

-1,414

58

0,163

rosemary- thyme

-22,642

58

<0.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 ml

oregano - rosemary

23,544

58

<0.001

oregano - thyme

-4,486

58

<0.001

rosemary- thyme

-21,161

58

<0.001