Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health. Alternatives to antimicrobials are needed to combat the rise of bacterial resistance. Essential oils (EOs) and their components are potential sources of new antimicrobials. The present study was conducted to evaluate the antibacterial and antifungal activities of two components of EOs. The antimicrobial mechanisms of eugenol and linalool were investigated against five bacterial strains and four Candida strains. Broth macrodilution method was used to compare the antibacterial and anticandidal activities of the two compounds. They exhibited antimicrobial activity against all tested strains. Germ tube formation by Candida albicans was investigated and it was found that it was completely inhibited at sub-MICs of eugenol while linalool showed minor activity compared to eugenol. Time kill kinetic studies indicated that eugenol was highly toxic to all bacterial and fungal strains within 2.5 h of exposure. Absorbance of intracellular constituents was measured at 260 nm. Only eugenol was highly effective toward lysis and cellular content leakage compared to control drugs. In addition, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to charactize the effect of the two components on cell morphology and showed that both compounds induced cellular deformity of nearly all tested cells. Also, it was found that only eugenol inhibited the Beta-lactamase production and urease activity and it diminished bacterial motility of all tested bacterial strains. These results indicate that eugenol and linalool are effective antimicrobial agents and both antibacterial and antifungal activities of linalool were much weaker than that of eugenol.
Key words: Antimicrobial resistance, antimicrobials, germ tube formation, time kill kinetic, cellular deformity.
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