Effect of Matricaria chamomilla L. flower essential oil on the growth and ultrastructure of Aspergillus niger van Tieghem
The antifungal activity of Matricaria chamomilla L flower essential oil was evaluated against Aspergillus niger with the emphasis on the plant's mode of action at the electron microscopy level. A total of 21 compounds were identified in the plant oil using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) accounting for 92.86% of the oil composition. The main compounds identified were alpha-bisabolol (56.86%), trans-trans-farnesol (15.64%), cis-beta-farnesene (7.12%), guaiazulene (4.24%), alpha-cubebene (2.69%), alpha-bisabolol oxide A (2.19%) and chamazulene (2.18%). In the bioassay, A. niger was cultured on Potato Dextrose Broth medium in 6-well microplates in the presence of serial two fold concentrations of plant oil (15.62 to 1000 mu g/mL) for 96 h at 28 degrees C. Based on the results obtained, A. niger growth was inhibited dose dependently with a maximum of similar to 92.50% at the highest oil concentration. A marked retardation in conidial production by the fungus was noticed in relation to the inhibition of hyphal growth. The main changes of hyphae observed by transmission electron microscopy were disruption of cytoplasmic membranes and intracellular organelles, detachment of plasma membrane from the cell wall, cytoplasm depletion, and complete disorganization of hyphal compartments. In scanning electron microscopy, swelling and deformation of hyphal tips, formation of short branches, and collapse of entire hyphae were the major changes observed. Morphological alterations might be due to the effect on cell permeability through direct interaction of M. chamomilla essential oil with the fungal plasma membrane. These findings indicate the potential of M. chamomilla L essential oil in preventing fungal contamination and subsequent deterioration of stored food and other susceptible materials. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.