U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska



Junwei J. Zhu

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The antimicrobial activities of (Z,E)- and (E,Z)-nepetalactones, 2 major compositional compounds from the essential oil of catnip (Nepeta cataria), were first discovered from fly larval development media studies with over 98% inhibition of bacterial growth. Further investigation demonstrated inhibition of the growth of various bacterial species of public health significance. Catnip oil showed antibacterial activity against 5 Gram-positive and 9 Gram-negative bacteria. The antimicrobial activity varied among the original essential oil from the plant and its major compositional compounds as a blended mixture or an individual compound. Growth inhibition was observed against 5 Neisseria species, with particularly strong inhibition against Neisseria sicca (with MICs ranging from 0.5 to 5 mg/mL) that provided comparable or increased levels of growth control produced by 2 antibiotics (Ceftiofur and Cephalothin). The development of plant-based antibacterial agents to prevent or delay the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria is discussed.

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