BACKGROUND: Monoterpenes are the main constituents of the essential oils obtained from plants. These natural products offered wide spectra of biological activity and extensively tested against microbial pathogens and other agricultural pests.
METHODS: Antifungal activity of 10 monoterpenes, including two hydrocarbons (camphene and (S)-limonene) and eight oxygenated hydrocarbons ((R)-camphor, (R)-carvone, (S)-fenchone, geraniol, (R)-linalool, (+)-menthol, menthone, and thymol), was determined against fungi of Alternaria alternata, Botrytis cinerea, Botryodiplodia theobromae, Fusarium graminearum, Phoma exigua, Phytophthora infestans, and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum by the mycelia radial growth technique. Subsequently, quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) analysis using different molecular descriptors with multiple regression analysis based on systematic search and LOOCV technique was performed. Moreover, a pharmacophore modelling was carried out using LigandScout software to evaluate the common features essential for the activity and the hypothetical geometries adopted by these ligands in their most active forms.
RESULTS: The results showed that the antifungal activities were high, but depended on the chemical structure and the type of microorganism. Thymol showed the highest effect against all fungi tested with respective EC50 in the range of 10-86 mg/L. The QSAR study proved that the molecular descriptors HBA, MR, Pz, tPSA, and Vp were correlated positively with the biological activity in all of the best models with a correlation coefficient (r) ≥ 0.98 and cross-validated values (Q2) ≥ 0.77.
CONCLUSION: The results of this work offer the opportunity to choose monoterpenes with preferential antimicrobial activity against a wide range of plant pathogens.