Antibacterial activity and mode of action of β-caryophyllene on Bacillus cereus

Chew-Li Moo, Shun-Kai Yang, Mohd-Azuraidi Osman, Mohd Hafis Yuswan, Jiun-Yan Loh, Wei-Meng Lim, Swee-Hua-Erin Lim, Kok-Song Lai

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59 Citations (Scopus)


Natural products such as essential oils (EOs) are secondary metabolites that can be obtained from either plant or animal sources or produced by microorganisms. Much attention has been given to exploring the use of secondary metabolites as natural antibacterial agents. This study investigates the antibacterial activity and mechanism of β-caryophyllene, a compound that can be found in various EOs, against Bacillus cereus. The minimum inhibitory concentration of β-caryophyllene against B. cereus was 2.5% (v/v), whereas killing kinetics of β-caryophyllene at minimum inhibitory concentration recorded complete bactericidal activity within 2 hours. Zeta-potential measurement in the cells treated with half the minimum inhibitory concentration of β-caryophyllene at 1.25% (v/v) showed an increase in the membrane permeability surface charge to -3.98 mV, compared to untreated cells (-5.46 mV). Intracellular contents leakage of UV-absorbing materials was detected in the cells treated with β-caryophyllene. Additionally, β-caryophyllene does not interfere with the efflux activity of B. cereus via the ethidium bromide influx/efflux activity. The results revealed that β-caryophyllene was able to alter membrane permeability and integrity of B. cereus, leading to membrane damage and intracellular content leakage, which eventually caused cell death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-54
Number of pages6
JournalPolish Journal of Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibacterial
  • Intracellular leakage
  • Membrane damage
  • Zeta potential
  • β-caryophyllene

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