Frontiers in Microbiology (2020-05-01)

The Cultivable Bacterial Microbiota Associated to the Medicinal Plant Origanum vulgare L.: From Antibiotic Resistance to Growth-Inhibitory Properties

  • Lara Mitia Castronovo,
  • Carmela Calonico,
  • Roberta Ascrizzi,
  • Sara Del Duca,
  • Vania Delfino,
  • Sofia Chioccioli,
  • Alberto Vassallo,
  • Iolanda Strozza,
  • Marinella De Leo,
  • Sauro Biffi,
  • Giovanni Bacci,
  • Patrizia Bogani,
  • Valentina Maggini,
  • Valentina Maggini,
  • Alessio Mengoni,
  • Luisa Pistelli,
  • Antonella Lo Nostro,
  • Fabio Firenzuoli,
  • Renato Fani

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11


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The insurgence of antibiotic resistance and emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) pathogens prioritize research to discover new antimicrobials. In this context, medicinal plants produce bioactive compounds of pharmacological interest: some extracts have antimicrobial properties that can contrast different pathogens. For such a purpose, Origanum vulgare L. (Lamiaceae family) is a medicinal aromatic plant, whose essential oil (EO) is recognized for its antiseptic, antimicrobial and antiviral activities. The cultivable bacteria from different compartments (i.e., flower, leaf, stem and soil) were isolated in order to: (i) characterize the bacterial microbiota associated to the plant, determining the forces responsible for the structuring of its composition (by evaluation of cross inhibition); (ii) investigate if bacterial endophytes demonstrate antimicrobial activities against human pathogens. A pool of plants belonging to O. vulgare species was collected and the specimen chemotype was defined by hydrodistillation of its essential oil. The isolation of plant associated bacteria was performed from the four compartments. Microbiota was further characterized through a culture-independent approach and next-generation sequencing analysis, as well. Isolates were molecularly typed by Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) profiling and taxonomically assigned by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Antibiotic resistance profiles of isolates and pairwise cross-inhibition of isolates on agar plates (i.e., antagonistic interactions) were also assessed. High level of diversity of bacterial isolates was detected at both genus and strain level in all different compartments. Most strains were tolerant against common antibiotics; moreover, they produced antagonistic patterns of interactions mainly with strains from different compartments with respect to that of original isolation. Strains that exhibited high inhibitory properties were further tested against human pathogens, revealing a strong capacity to inhibit the growth of strains resistant to several antibiotics. In conclusion, this study regarded the characterization of O. vulgare L. chemotype and of the bacterial communities associated to this medicinal plant, also allowing the evaluation of antibiotic resistance and antagonistic interactions. This study provided the bases for further analyses on the possible involvement of endophytic bacteria in the production of antimicrobial molecules that could have an important role in clinical and therapeutic applications.