Antibacterial effects of oak bark (Quercus robur) and heather herb (Calluna vulgaris L.) extracts against the causative bacteria of bovine mastitis

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Background and Aim: Bovine mastitis has a negative impact on animals, and improper antibiotic use has caused an increase in bacterial resistance. Therefore, medicinal plants could serve as an alternative treatment for this condition. Polyphenols have potential as antibiotic agents. Oak bark has long been used as a medicine and has shown antibacterial effects. Moreover, research on heather plant demonstrated that it has antibacterial properties. This study aimed to assess the antibacterial effects of oak (Quercus robur) bark and heather (Calluna vulgaris L.) herb extracts against common bovine mastitis pathogens. Materials and Methods: Dried oak bark and heather herb were used to prepare extracts using 30%, 50%, and 70% ethanol and acetone as solvents. Their polyphenol content was determined using the Folin-Ciocalteu method. Bovine mastitis-inducing clinical isolates of Escherichia coli, Streptococcus agalactiae, Streptococcus uberis, Serratia liquefaciens, Staphylococcus aureus, and reference cultures of S. aureus and E. coli were used for antibacterial tests. All extracts were screened through a disk diffusion test to ascertain their antibacterial effects, and the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimal bactericidal concentration (MBC) were determined for the most effective extracts. Results: Oak bark extracts had variable antibacterial effects against S. aureus and Streptococcus strains, but no statistically significant difference was observed in activity against E. coli. The disk diffusion test showed that the oak bark extracts obtained using acetone and ethanol at 30% yielded the best results. However, the 70% acetone oak extract alone affected all types of bacteria. Further antibacterial tests of 70% acetone and 30% ethanol oak extracts revealed that the lowest MIC and MBC scores were against S. aureus strains and E. coli reference cultures. Conversely, the heather herb extracts exhibited broader activity against all types of bacteria, although better results were observed against Gram-positive bacteria. There was also a negative correlation between solvent concentration and antibacterial effect (p < 0.05, r = −0.507). The highest inhibition zone scores and broadest spectrum were observed in samples prepared in 30% ethanol. There was no statistically significant correlation between the phenolic content of plants and their antibacterial effects. Conclusion: Oak bark and heather extracts could be used as potential antibacterial agents against bovine mastitis pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2315-2322
JournalVeterinary World
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • antibacterial
  • bovine mastitis
  • Escherichia coli
  • heather herb
  • in vitro
  • oak bark
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus

Field of Science*

  • 4.3 Veterinary science

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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