Antivirulence properties and related mechanisms of spice essential oils: A comprehensive review

Dan Zhang, Ren You Gan*, Jia Rong Zhang, Arakkaveettil Kabeer Farha, Hua Bin Li, Fan Zhu, Xiao Hong Wang, Harold Corke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


In recent decades, reduced antimicrobial effectiveness, increased bacterial infection, and newly emerged microbial resistance have become global public issues, leading to an urgent need to find effective strategies to counteract these problems. Strategies targeting bacterial virulence factors rather than bacterial survival have attracted increasing interest, since the modulation of virulence factors may prevent the development of drug resistance in bacteria. Spices are promising natural sources of antivirulence compounds owing to their wide availability, diverse antivirulence phytochemical constituents, and generally favorable safety profiles. Essential oils are the predominant and most important antivirulence components of spices. This review addresses the recent efforts of using spice essential oils to inhibit main bacterial virulence traits, including the quorum sensing system, biofilm formation, motility, and toxin production, with an intensive discussion of related mechanisms. We hope that this review can provide a better understanding of the antivirulence properties of spice essential oils, which have the potential to be used as antibiotic alternatives by targeting bacterial virulence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1018-1055
Number of pages38
JournalComprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • biofilm
  • mechanisms
  • motility
  • quorum sensing
  • spice essential oils
  • toxin


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