Boosting Thyme Oil Benefits with Lab-Made Plant Variants

Greg Howard
10th March, 2024

Boosting Thyme Oil Benefits with Lab-Made Plant Variants

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In a Czech study, genetically altered thyme plants produced 41% more essential oil
  • The oil from these altered plants showed stronger antibacterial and antioxidant effects
  • It also had a greater ability to reduce inflammation, potentially offering a safer alternative to some drugs
In recent years, the use of natural products for health and wellness has surged, with essential oils taking center stage due to their therapeutic properties. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) is one such plant whose essential oil is prized in the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic industries for its potential to treat various ailments. Researchers at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague have embarked on a study[1] to enhance the yield and therapeutic efficacy of thyme essential oil. They achieved this by creating tetraploid plants—plants with double the usual number of chromosomes—using a substance called oryzalin. The study aimed to compare the phytochemical content, and the antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory activities of essential oils extracted from these tetraploid thyme plants to those from the normal diploid (usual chromosome number) plants. The findings were significant: tetraploids produced 41.11% more essential oil, which was richer in thymol and γ-terpinene, two compounds known for their health benefits. When tested against harmful microorganisms, the tetraploid thyme essential oil showed greater antibacterial activity than the diploid oil. This is particularly relevant given previous research[2] that highlighted the broad-spectrum antibacterial and antifungal activity of essential oils from spices like cinnamon and cardamom. The Czech study builds on this by demonstrating that increasing the chromosome count of thyme can lead to more potent antimicrobial properties. In terms of antioxidant capacity, which is the ability to neutralize harmful free radicals, the tetraploid essential oil also outperformed the diploid oil. It had a lower half-maximal inhibitory dose (IC50), indicating it was more effective at a lower concentration. This aligns with earlier studies[3] that showed the antioxidant potential of Thymus vulgaris, particularly in the ethyl acetate fraction of the plant extract. The anti-inflammatory activity of the tetraploid oil was also more pronounced, especially in its ability to inhibit COX-2, an enzyme that plays a significant role in causing inflammation and pain. This is noteworthy as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) target this enzyme to reduce inflammation but can have adverse effects[4]. The study's findings suggest that tetraploid thyme essential oil could be a safer alternative with fewer side effects. Furthermore, molecular docking studies provided a scientific explanation for the enhanced bioactivity of the tetraploid oil. The compounds thymol and γ-terpinene showed a higher binding affinity towards protein receptors, which could be responsible for the increased antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities. The implications of these findings are substantial. They not only confirm the value of thyme essential oil as a bioactive agent but also demonstrate the potential of using induced polyploidization to improve the quality and quantity of medicinal plant yields. This could lead to the development of more efficient essential oil-based commercial products. In conclusion, the research from the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague signifies a leap forward in the field of natural therapeutics. By harnessing the power of genetic manipulation through oryzalin-induced polyploidy, scientists have unlocked a new realm of possibilities for enhancing the therapeutic properties of essential oils, offering a promising avenue for future product development and applications in various industries.

BiotechBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Synthetic polyploidization induces enhanced phytochemical profile and biological activities in Thymus vulgaris L. essential oil.

Published 7th March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Systematic analysis of antimicrobial activity, phytochemistry, and in silico molecular interaction of selected essential oils and their formulations from different Indian spices against foodborne bacteria.

3) HPLC, FTIR and GC-MS Analyses of Thymus vulgaris Phytochemicals Executing In Vitro and In Vivo Biological Activities and Effects on COX-1, COX-2 and Gastric Cancer Genes Computationally.

4) Lessons from 20 years with COX-2 inhibitors: Importance of dose-response considerations and fair play in comparative trials.

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙