Chemical Composition and Antibacterial Activity of the Essential Oil from Qiancao (Rubia cordifolia Linn.) Roots against Selected Foodborne Pathogens

Wei-Qin Li, Mei-Ping Quan, Qin Li


Chemical composition of the essential oil from Qiancao roots was analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and 43 components were identified in the paper. Mollugin (30.58%) was found to be the major component, followed by 3-methyl-2-cyclopenten-1-one (10.55%), 4-tert-butyl-2-phenyl-phenol (8.64%) and eugenol (6.30%). The antibacterial activity of essential oil against selected food-borne pathogens was evaluated. The results showed that the sensitivity to essential oil were different for different tested bacteria and the essential oil had a strong antibacterial activity against B. cereus with the lowest minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericide concentration (MBC) values of 0.0625 and 0.125 mg/mL, respectively. In addition, microbial growth curve assay also showed that the essential oil had a significant effect on the growth rate of surviving B. cereus. The data of this study suggests that the essential oil from Qiancao roots has great potential for application as a natural antimicrobial agent to preserve food.


Rubia cordifolia, chemical composition, antimicrobial activity, essential oil

Full Text:



Diao W-R, Hu Q-P, Zhang H, Xu, J-G. 2014. Chemical composition, antibacterial activity and mechanism of action of essential oil from seeds of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.). Food Control 35: 109–116.

Divakar K, Pawar AT, Chandrasekhar SB, Dighe SB, Divakar G. 2010. Protective effect of the hydro-alcoholic extract of Rubia cordifolia roots against ethylene glycol induced urolithiasis in rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology 48: 1013–1018.

Gao CY, Tian CR, Lu YH, Xu JG, Luo JY, Guo XP. 2011. Essential oil composition and antimicrobial activity of Sphallerocarpus gracilis seeds against selected food-related bacteria. Food Control 22: 517–522.

Han Y-S, der Heijden RV, Verpoorte R. 2001. Biosynthesis of anthraquinones in cell cultures of Rubiaceae. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture 67: 201–220.

Hussain AI, Anwar F, Nigam PS, Sarker SD, Moore JE, Rao JR, Mazumdar A. 2011. Antibacterial activity of some Lamiaceae essential oils using resazurin as an indicator of cell growth. LWT-Food Science and Technology 44: 1199–1206.

Kaur P, Chandel M, Kumar S, Kumar N, Singh B, Kaur S. 2010. Modulatory role of alizarin from Rubia cordifolia L. against genotoxicity of mutagens. Food and Chemical Toxicology 48: 320–325.

Liu R, Lu YB, Tian X, Pan Y. 2008. Simultaneous isolation and purification of mollugin and two anthraquinones from Rubia cordifolia by HSCCC. Chromatographia 28(1): 95–99.

Lodia S, Kansala L. 2012. Antioxident activity of Rubia cordifolia against lead toxicity. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Science and Reseach 3(7): 2224–2232.

Ma TT, Luo JY, Tian CR, Sun XY, Quan MP, Zheng CP, Kang LN, Zhan JC. 2011. Influence of technical processing units on chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of carrot (Daucus carrot L.) juice essential oil. Food Chemistry 170: 394–400.

Miyazawa M, Kawata J. 2006. Identification of the key aroma compounds in dried roots of Rubia cordifolia. Journal of Oleo Science 1(55): 37–39.

Sarker SD, Nahar L, Kumarasamy Y. 2007. Microtitre plate-based antibacterial assay incorporating resazurin as an indicator of cell growth, and its application in the in vitro antibacterial screening of phytochemicals. Methods 42: 321–324.

Sokmen A, Gulluce M, Akpulat HA, Daferera D, Tepe B, Polissiou M, Sokmen M, Sahin, F. 2004. The in vitro antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of the essential oils and methanol extracts of endemic Thymus spathulifolius. Food Control 15: 627–634.




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Asian Journal of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.