Inhibition of Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes by select phytochemicals

Jourdan E. Lakes, Christopher I. Richards, Michael D. Flythe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Current research indicates that changes in gut microbiota can impact the host, but it is not always clear how dietary and environmental factors alter gut microbiota. One potential factor is antimicrobial activity of compounds ingested by the host. The goal of this study was to determine the antimicrobial activity of common plant secondary metabolites against pure cultures of paired, structurally and phylogenetically distinct gastrointestinal bacteria of human or bovine origin: Prevotella bryantii B14, Bacteroides fragilis 25285, Acetoanaerobium (Clostridium) sticklandii SR and Clostridioides difficile 9689. When growth media were amended with individual phytochemicals (the alkaloids: berberine, capsaicin, nicotine, piperine and quinine and the phenolic: curcumin), growth of each species was inhibited to varying degrees at the three greatest concentrations tested (0.10–10.00 mg mL−1). The viable cell numbers of all the cultures were reduced, ≥4-logs, by berberine at concentrations ≥1.00 mg mL−1. Quinine performed similarly to berberine for B14, 25285, and SR at the same concentrations. The other phytochemicals were inhibitory, but not as much as quinine or berberine. Nicotine had activity against all four species (≥2-log reduction in viable cell number at 10.00 mg mL−1), but had stronger activity against the Gram-positive bacteria, SR and 9689, (≥4-log reductions at 10.00 mg mL−1). In conclusion, the phytochemicals had varying spectra of antimicrobial activity. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that ingested phytochemicals have the ability to differentially impact gut microbiota through antimicrobial activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102145
StatePublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019


  • Alkaloids
  • Antimicrobial activity
  • Bacteroides fragilis
  • Clostridioides difficile
  • Inhibitory concentration
  • Nicotine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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