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Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Essential oil of Genista numidica Spach. and G. saharae Coss et Dur

T. Lograda, A.N. Chaker, P. Chalard, M. Ramdani, J.C. Chalchat, H. Silini and G. Figueredo
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The hydrodistilled oils from the aerial parts of Genista numidica and G. saharae, which are endemic to Algeria, were analyzed by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). Sixty nine compounds in the oil of G. numidica representing 87% of the total oil and 58 compounds of G. saharae, representing 91% of the total oil were identified. The analysis showed that the main constituents of the essential oils are rich in fatty acid. The major constituent are lauric acid (9.1-8.4%), myristic acid (13.5-14.5%), palmitic acid (15.3-32.3%) and linoleic acid (0-2.4%). The effects of these oils on the growth of Escherichia coli (ATCC 25922), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 27853) and Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 25923) were investigated by the diffusion method. The oils showed no significant antibacterial activities.

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  How to cite this article:

T. Lograda, A.N. Chaker, P. Chalard, M. Ramdani, J.C. Chalchat, H. Silini and G. Figueredo, 2009. Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Essential oil of Genista numidica Spach. and G. saharae Coss et Dur. Asian Journal of Plant Sciences, 8: 495-499.

DOI: 10.3923/ajps.2009.495.499



The Genisteae (Adans) Benth. is a tribe of Fabaceae, basically circum-Mediterranean. Different palaeoclimatic and geological processes have been involved in the evolution of Mediterranean plant communities, including those characterized by Genisteae (Pardo et al., 2008; Loget and Driessche, 2006).

The Genisteae have a great ecological significance in Mediterranean countries. They colonize degraded forests and deforested areas that characterize the landscape (Lopez Gonzalez, 2001).

The genus Genista, consisting of 87 species (Martins et al., 2005), among these species 23 grow in Algeria (Maire et al., 1987; Quezel and Santa, 1962). Taxonomical criteria were based on leaves, branching pattern, size and shape of petals and legume characters (Gibbs, 1966).

All phytochemical analysis on Genista has revealed the presence of flavonoids, isoflavones and alkaloids (Martins et al., 2005; Southon, 1994; Pistelli et al., 1998, 2000; Giachi et al., 2002; Rauter et al., 2005). Little information about essential oil of Genista is available.

The present study aims to determine and to compare the composition of the oils and antimicrobial activity of two endemic species Genista numidica and G. saharae.


Plant material: Genista numidica and G. Saharae are not spiny perennial shrub. These species are endemic, the first species is trifoliate, grows on moist forest floors commonly called Teqtaq, the second is leafless, named Tellegit grows on sandy soils arid. The origin and ecology of the samples are presented in Table 1.

Aerial parts, during flowering stage, were collected at Taza and Bousaada (Algeria) in May 2008. The chemical tests were conducted on February 2009. Voucher specimens were stored in the herbarium of the Department of Biology, Ferhat Abbas University, Algeria.

Table 1: Sites of Genista species sampled
Image for - Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Essential oil of Genista numidica Spach. and G. saharae Coss et Dur

Essential oil analysis: The air dried materials were subjected to hydrodistillation for 3 h using a Clevenger-type apparatus. The oils were analyzed by GC on a Hewlett-Packard 5890 GC series II, equipped with FID, fitted with a SE-54 capillary column (25 mx0.25 mm; 0.25 μm film thickness). The column temperature was programmed from 55°C (5 mn) to 210°C (4 mn) at a rate of 6°C min-1. The injector and detector temperatures were programmed at 220°C. Helium was used as carrier gas at a flow rate of 0.6 mL min-1, split ratio 1:50. The analysis by GC-MS was performed on a Hewlett-Packard GC-MS system (5890, series II; MSD 5971A, Hewlett-Packard), equipped with SE-54 columns, under the following conditions: splitless.

Evaluation of the antibacterial activity: The antibacterial activity of the oil was carried out by the disc diffusion method, according to the National committee of clinical laboratory standards (Kiehlbauch et al., 2000) against three of American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) namely: Escherichia coli (ATCC 25922), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 27853), Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 25923) which were obtained from the Microbiology and Parasitology Laboratory of Ferhat Abbas University Hospital. It was performed using an 20 h culture growth at 37°C and adjusted to approximately 105 CFU mL-1. Five hundred microliters of the bacterial suspension was spread on the surface of Muller-Hinton Agar plates. Sterile filter paper disks (Whatman No. 1.6 mm in diameter) containing 10 μL of each dilution of the oil (half, 1/4 and 1/8 v/v in the absolute ethanol) were placed on the surface of the media. The plates were left 30 min at room temperature to allow the diffusion of the oil and then they were incubated at 37°C for 24 h. At the end of this period, the inhibition zones were measured. All the experiments were performed in triplicate. Positive (Gentamycin, 10 μg/disc) and negative controls (10 μL ethanol) were also included in the test.


The average oils yield of these two species was found to be 0.29% based on the fresh weight, which ranged from 0.27 to 0.31% for the two species respectively.

The composition of the oils differed only quantitatively for G. numidica and G. saharae. The compounds identified in these oils and their relative proportions are listed in their elution as given in Table 2. A number of 96 compounds were characterized, representing 87% of the total oil of G. numidica and 91% of the total oil of G. saharae.

Table 2: Chemical composition of essential oils of Genista numidica and G. saharae
Image for - Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Essential oil of Genista numidica Spach. and G. saharae Coss et Dur

Table 2: Continued
Image for - Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Essential oil of Genista numidica Spach. and G. saharae Coss et Dur

Table 3: Antibacterial activity of Genista numidica and G. saharae oil in vitro
Image for - Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Essential oil of Genista numidica Spach. and G. saharae Coss et Dur
num = Genista numidica; sah = Genista saharae; Gen. = Gentamycine (10 μg/disk); Inhibition zone (diameter of the disk, 6 mm, include), values represent average of three determination

The qualitative difference of the oil of these two species is very low; however the quantitative difference is important. The composition of essential oil from Genista numidica and G. saharae is slightly different.

This oil is very rich in fatty acids; lauric acid (14.32-8.46%), myristic acid (11.45-4.98%), palmitic acid (18.63-26.4%) and linoleic acid (3.08-11.71%). The essential oils of both species are very low in terpenoids.

Many plant derived essential oils are known to exhibit antimicrobial activity against a wide range of bacteria. The in-vitro antimicrobial activities of the essential oil of this species were not reported previously. The antibacterial activity of the Genista species essential oils in comparison with Gentamycin is shown in Table 3.

The bacteria tested were resistant to the studied essential oil concentrations. The half dilution of Genista saharae oils decreases the density of the growth of Escherichia coli ATCC 25922, Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 27853 and Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 25923, on a halo of 7.9-8.7 mm. G. numidica shows no bacterial activity.


The antibacterial activities of fatty acids have been well known for many years (Walters et al., 2004; Agoramoorthy et al., 2007). Some fatty acids have been demonstrated to be bactericidal to important pathogenic microorganisms including antibiotic resistant S. aureus (Sun et al., 2003; Shin et al., 2007). Free fatty acids can be regarded as potential bactericides (Hinton and Ingram, 2000; Lee et al., 2002; Mbandi et al., 2004). The natural concentrations are not sufficient to cause the total inactivation of pathogens (Sado-Kamdem et al., 2008). The results showed that S. aureus been most sensitive compared to Echerichia coli and P. aeruginosa. The antibacterial activity is absent for both species with 1/8 dilution. The reduced growth is due to the presence of fatty acids as demonstrated by Shin et al. (2007) on S. aureus and P. aeruginosa, this action is proportional to concentration of fatty acids in oil (Sylvain et al., 2009).

In brief, the essential oils analysis carried out on two species (Genista numidica and G. saharae) showed the presence of faty acids variability within species. They emphasize the abundance in fatty acids; lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid and linoleic acid. The essential oils of Genista species show no important biological activity.


This study was supported by MESRS of Algeria (Project N° F01220070009).

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