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Antimicrobial potential of essential oil feed additives

21 November 2017

A recent study has indicated that a number of plant-derived essential oils are effective as natural alternatives to synthetic food additives, particularly as antimicrobial agents.

O’Bryan and colleagues from the Department of Food Science, University of Arkansas, recently published a review of the antimicrobial effects of essential oils (EOs), in particular, their mode of action. The paper looks at the effectiveness of essential oils, such as Eugenol and Tea tree oil, in their hydrophobic activity on gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, and goes into detail on how exactly the success-rate of EOs can be monitored.

For example, Potassium and Carboxyfluorescein (stain) leakage from cells into the extracellular space can be considered an indicator for cell damage potentially caused by bacteria. Equally, influx of unregulated, larger molecules, such as Propidium iodide, into the cell is indicative of the formation of large pores that are red flags for cell death.

This comprehensive review of EO research to date, concludes that a number of plant-derived essential oils are effective in alleviating some of the cellular signs of bacterial damage, and are effective as antimicrobial agents.


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