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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 344: International Symposium on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

THE SEARCH FOR OPTIMALLY BIOACTIVE AUSTRALIAN TEA TREE OIL

Authors:   I.A. Southwell, A.J. Hayes, J. Markham, D.N. Leach
Keywords:   Melaleuca, Myrtaceae, essential oil, anti-microbial, zone-of-inhibition, minimum inhibitory concentration
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.1993.344.30
Abstract:
Antimicrobial activity of tea tree oil was determined using the disc diffusion assay. Terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpineol and 1,8-cineole were found to have greater mobility through agar than hydrocarbon congeners in agar plate zone-of-inhibition measurements. Minimum inhibitory concentrations were measured using an agar plate dilution method where a range of oil concentrations in agar were tested against S. aureus, E. coli, P. aeruginosa, C. albicans and A. niger.

This method was used to show that concentrations of 1,8-cineole in excess of the upper limit specified in the Australian Standard are not inhibitory. At concentrations up to 30% cineole appears to be synergistic. Antimicrobial activity decreased only when terpinen-4-ol levels fell below 30%, the minimum limit specified in the standard. Preliminary results also indicated that (+) and (-)-terpinen-4-ol are equally bioactive.

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