Antifungal and Bioherbicidal Properties of Essential Oils of Thymus fallax Fish & Mey., Origanum vulgare L. and Mentha dumetorum Schult.
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The chemical composition of the essential oils obtained from the aerial parts of Thymus fallax, Origanum vulgare and Mentha dumetorum was analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and the following were found to be the main constituents: T. fallax-thymol (41.48 %), o-cymene (26.75 %), zeta-terpinen (15.84 %), 2-isopropyl-1-methoxy-4-methylbenzene (5.10 %), terpineolene (2.11 %) and carvacrol (1.28 %); O. vulgare-thymol (50.41 %), carvacrol (12.96 %), 2-bornene (11.28 %), zeta-terpinen (8.80 %), o-cymene (6.68 %), alpha-bisabolane (2.19 %) and caryophyllene (1.31 %); and M. dumetorum-carvone (39.64 %), eucalyptol (14.34 %), dihydrocarvone (12.78 %), limonene (7.79 %). The antifungal activities of the oils against Alternaria solani, Fusarium oxysporum and Rhizoctonia solani were also evaluated and were found to be toxic to the pathogens. The results revealed that essential oils, especially those of T. fallax and O. vulgare, had a strong antifungal activity with a significant inhibition on the growth of the 3 tested fungi. In contrast, the M. dumetorum oil did not inhibit the growth of Rhizoctonia solani and also exerted a limited inhibitory effect on the mycelial growth of the other two fungi tested. The results of herbicidal assays using these essential oils against four different plant species, Abutilon theophrasti Medik., Agrostemma githago L., Medicago sativa L. and Lepidium sativum L., showed that the oils had inhibitory effects on seed germination and seedling growth. The findings of the present study confirmed that plant essential oils can be used as natural herbicides and fungicides to control weeds and pathogenic fungi, thus, reducing the dependence on synthetic pesticides.