A rapid assay to determine antifungal activity in plant extracts and essential oils is described. Wells in microtiter plates were loaded with Botrytis cinerea spores and plant extracts or essential oils. Subsequent changes in optical density following spore germination in the wells was measured after 24 h using an automatic microtiter plate reader driven by a software program developed for this purpose. Extracts from 345 plants and 49 essential oils were evaluated for their antifungal activity against B. cinerea. Among 345 plant extracts analyzed, 13 showed high levels of antifungal activity, with species of Allium and Capsicum predominating. Among the 49 essential oils tested, palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini), red thyme (Thymus zygis), cinnamon leaf (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), and clove buds (Eugenia caryophyllata) demonstrated the most antifungal activity against B. cinerea. The most frequently occurring constituents in essential oils showing high antifungal activity were: D-limonene, cineole; β-myrcene; α-pinene, β-pinene; and camphor.
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