Effect of carvacrol on O157 and non-O157 Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli

Alexandros Stratakos, Filip Sima, Mark Linton, Carmel Kelly, Laurette Pinkerton, Nicolae Corcionivoschi


Shiga toxin Escherichia coli (STEC) strains are important foodborne bacteria linked to diarrhea, enteritis, hemolytic-uremic syndrome and in some cases death. E. coli O157:H7 is the most common strain amongst STECs however non-O157 STECs have been connected with several outbreaks on an international level.  The use of natural plant extracts to reduce the risk from foodborne pathogens is gaining increasing importance. Therefore in this study, we tested the antibacterial effect of carvacrol, a major component of oregano essential oil, on E. coli serogroups O157, O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, O145 as well as serogroup O104 responsible for the massive outbreak in Germany in 2011. Carvacrol showed antibacterial effect on all strains tested. The relative electric conductivity was assessed in order to investigate the changes in membrane permeability and thus to investigate the antimicrobial mechanism of carvacrol. Results showed that the relative conductivity increased with increasing concentrations of carvacrol which showed that there was an increasing leakage of electrolytes due to disruption of the cell membrane. The data presented here revealed that carvacrol has the potential to be used as a natural antimicrobial against STECs.


antibacterial, carvacrol, non-O157 E. coli, O 157 E. coli, permeability

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