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Antifungal Activity of Oregano and Thyme Essential Oils Applied as Fumigants Against Fungi Attacking Stored Grain

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Essential oils from oregano and thyme were applied for 24 h as fumigants against the mycelia and spores of Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus ochraceus, as well as against natural microflora of wheat grains. The minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) of oregano oil needed to inhibit the mycelial growth of the fungi was 2.0 μl/L, while spores were eradicated following exposure to 2.0 to 2.5 μl/L. The thyme essential oil was less efficient in controlling mycelia and growth was observed even following exposure to 4.0 μl/L. However, the thyme essential oil was fungitoxic to spores (MIC = 3.0 μl/L). In another set of trials the efficacy of the oils and two of their constituents (carvacrol and thymol) in controlling natural microflora of surface-sterilized wheat grain was studied. Of the four materials investigated, only oregano essential oil exhibited fungicidal activity and, following 24 h exposure to 20 μl/L, a significant reduction in the percent of infested grain was observed even after 5 days of incubation on potato dextrose agar. A reduction in the germinability of the grains was evident following exposure to the materials tested. When the fungicidal activity of oregano essential oil was evaluated using grains with different moisture contents (MC), data revealed that the better inhibitory effect was achieved in grain with a high MC. The findings emphasize the toxicity of oregano and thyme essential oils as fumigants against fungi attacking stored grain and strengthen the possibility of using them as an alternative to chemicals for preserving stored grains.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Stored Products, Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), The Volcani Center, P.O. Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel 2: Department of Medicinal and Spice Crops, ARO, Newe Ya'ar Experimental Station, P.O. Haifa 31000, Israel 3: Department of Food Science, ARO, The Volcani Center, P.O. Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel

Publication date: January 1, 1995

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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