Next Article in Journal
Intestinal Microbiota in the Clinical Results of Cancer and Its Modulation as Auxiliary Therapy
Previous Article in Journal
Isolation and Characterization of Agricultural Soil Bacteria with Biotechnological and Biological Control Potential Applications
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:
Proceeding Paper

A Study on the Antimicrobial Activity of Algae Extract: The Fucales Order Case †

Nutrition and Bromatology Group, Department of Analytical Chemistry and Food Science, Faculty of Science, University of Vigo, E32004 Ourense, Spain
REQUIMTE/LAQV, Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto, Instituto Politécnico do Porto, Rua Dr António Bernardino de Almeida 431, 4249-015 Porto, Portugal
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the 2nd International Electronic Conference on Microbiology, 1–15 December 2023; Available online:
Biol. Life Sci. Forum 2024, 31(1), 26;
Published: 9 January 2024
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of The 2nd International Electronic Conference on Microbiology)


Over the years, foodborne pathogens have caused countess health problems and massive financial losses. Therefore, an essential goal for the food industry is to prevent food contamination and the related foodborne illnesses as microbial contamination of food items during their acquiring and distribution processes is still a hygienic issue. Moreover, there is an important movement leading to the pursuit of more natural and safe food supplies and ingredients with a special emphasis on the vegan and vegetarian community; as a result, there has been a resurgence in demand for natural and eco-friendly products as a replacement for synthetic ingredients. In this context, and due to their active substances, macroalgae stand out as they are known for possessing antibacterial qualities among other abilities. Because of this, the current study updates our understanding of microbial pollutants in the food industry and compiles the latest updates on the scientific reports on antimicrobial activity of the edible brown algae species with special attention to the algae Bifurcaria bifurcata, Fucus spiralis, and Ascophyllum nodosum. These species which belong to the Phaeophyceae class and order Fucales are reportedly rich in active compounds and are still an undervalued resource. So, the ability of algal extracts to stop the growth of various significant food pathogens is reviewed herein, while considering their advantageous effects on food safety and quality issues.

1. Introduction

Rich in biodiversity, the oceans have gained global importance and are increasingly under scrutiny as a source of natural products. Among the many organisms living in marine habitats, macroalgae have attracted much interest due to their diversity and potent bioactive metabolites [1]. Members of the Fucales family, a particular group of brown macroalgae, are known for their ecological importance, metabolite composition, and potent bioactive properties.
These metabolites, ranging from polysaccharides [2] to phenolic compounds [3] and terpenoids [4], not only contribute to the ecological interactions of the algae but also possess promising bioactive properties. This work focuses on exploring the antimicrobial potential of extracts from macroalgae belonging to the Fucales family, namely Bifurcaria bifurcata, Fucus spiralis, and Ascophyllum nodosum. Figure 1 presents photographs of this species in detail and in their natural environment. The study aims to elucidate the spectrum of antimicrobial activity of these extracts against a range of significant microorganisms, highlighting food-related pathogens.

2. Discussion

With the aim of evaluating the latest published developments in the field of antimicrobial capacity of algal extracts, available databases were searched using the name of the alga and antimicrobial activity as keywords. A summary of the main results published in the last five years is presented in Table 1.
Several important foodborne microorganisms can cause various diseases when ingested through contaminated food. Some of the most important of these are: Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus [5]. Macroalgal extracts could play a role as inhibitors of these pathogens [6,7]. For example, the pathogenic effect of toxins produced by E. coli is one of the most important causes of foodborne illness worldwide [7,8]. Moreover, there are studies also supporting the inclusion of alga extracts as food preserves [9,10].
The antimicrobial activity of B. bifurcaria extracts obtained by maceration with solvents of different polarity has been studied previously. The results highlighted the potential of B. bifurcaria as an effective antimicrobial agent, as all extracts were active against five of the six microorganisms tested [11]. In another work, the algal extract (hexane–isopropanol–water (10:80:10)) was tested against Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis, Geobacillus stearothermophilus, L. monocytogenes, S. aureus, and Staphylococcus haemolyticus. The results showed antimicrobial activity against all microorganisms, with seasonal variation in activity and minimum inhibitory concentrations ranging from 0.3 mg/mL (G. stearothermophilus) to 19.9 mg/mL (S. aureus) [12]. In addition, the water extracts of B. bifurcaria were found to have potent antifungal activity against Penicillium digitatum, Penicillium expansum, and Penicillium italicum [13].
Table 1. Selected studies on the antimicrobial activity of Bifurcaria bifurcata, Fucus spiralis, and Ascophyllum nodosum.
Table 1. Selected studies on the antimicrobial activity of Bifurcaria bifurcata, Fucus spiralis, and Ascophyllum nodosum.
Extraction TechniqueMicroorganism TestedMajor ResultsRef.
Bifurcaria bifurcata
Sequential extraction (RT); (Hx, MeOH, Wt) 1:20 (m/v)Epidermophyton floccosum, Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes var. interdigitale; Thrichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton verrucosum.MeOH extracts demonstrated antifungal capacity against human dermatophyte fungi; the antifungal activity seems to be seasonally/geographically influenced[14]
50 °C, 24 h EtOH, AcO, EtAc, Chl and Hx
Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coliStrong inhibition activity; all extracts were active against all microorganisms except E. coli[11]
RT 60 min
Hx–IPr-W (10:80:10)
Bacillus cereus; Bacillus subtilis; Geobacillus stearothermophilus; Listeria monocytogenes; Staphylococcus aureus; Staphylococcus haemolyticus; MICs values between 0.9 mg/mL (B. cereus) and >19.9 (L. monocytogenes) spatial and seasonal variations; inconsistencies between disc diffusion and broth dilution methods [12]
RT, 4 days
Penicillium digitatum,
Botrytis cinerea
Active against both microorganisms in the four harvest seasons tested [15]
48 h, RT, +30 min. ultrasonication
Penicillium digitatum, Penicillium expansum, Penicillium italicum Strong antifungal activity; effective in reducing the mycelial growth. [13]
RT 48 h
methanol (90%)
E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillo subtilis, P. aeruginosa MICs from 0.11 to 1.87 mg/mL [13]
Sequential extraction
MeOH; DCM/MeOH (50:50), DCM
Escherichia coli,
Proteus mirabilis,
Staphylococcus aureus CECT 976,
Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 25923
MIC of 0.02 µg/mL against P. mirabilis, 0.3 µg/mL against S. aureus CECT 976 and 1.8 µg/mL against the S. aureus ATCC 25923. [16]
Fucus spiralis
RT, 4 days
Penicillium digitatum,
Botrytis cinerea
Algae harvest in summer was active against both fungal species[15]
RT: overnigth
DCM:MeOH (1:1)
PE EtAc n-Hx
Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Mucor mucedo, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Aspergilus niger. Candida albicans, Penicillium italicumThe crude extract and fractions were active against all tested microbes; the best result was obtained with the lipidic fraction[17]
50°C, 24 h EtOH, AcO, EtAc, Chl and Hx, alga 0.03 g per mL of solvent
Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis,
Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Salmonella enteritidis Escherichia coli
Acetonic extract was the most active[11]
Sequential extraction Hx; EtAc, EtOH/Maceration EtOH, W/Shoxleth EtOH (frations W, Dieth, EtAc)Staphylococcus epidermidis, Cutibacterium acnes, Malassezia furfurThe concentration used (1 mg/mL) is not effective against the studied microorganisms[18]
AcO:W (7:3) and purification to obtain phlorotannins
Epidermophyton floccosum, Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Microsporum canis and Microsporum gypseumMIC values raking from 7.8 to 31.3 mg/mL against skin- and nail-isolated fungus[19]
Sequential extraction
MeOH, DCM/MeOH (50:50)/
Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Staphylococcus aureus CECT 976, Staphylococcus aureus, ATCC 25923MIC of 3.6 µg/mL against P. mirabilis, 2.7 µg/mL against S. aureus CECT 976, and 10.65 µg/mL against the S. aureus ATCC 25923[16]
Ascophyllum nodosum
RT 30 min
MeOH:W (1:1)
Escherichia coli Ascophyllum nodosum revealed antioxidant and antimicrobial capacity [20]
ACO 6 h
Escherichia coliAntimicrobial effect against E. coli in the first 6 h[21]
AcO:W (7:3)
3 h RT and purification solid-phase extraction (SPE)
Escherichia coli, O157:H7 Salmonella agonaStreptococcus. suisMics of raking from 0.78 to 1.56 mg/mL[6]
50 °C, 24 h EtOH, AcO, EtAc, Chl and Hex
Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis,
Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli
The ethanolic extract was the most active [11]
AcO: acetone, nBut: n-butanol, Chl: chloroform, cHx: cyclohexane, DCM: dichloromethane, Dieth: diethyl ether, EtOH: ethanol, EtAc: ethyl acetate, HX: hexane, IPr: isopropanol, MeOH: methanol, PE: petroleum ether, W: water, RT: room temperature.
This antifungal activity was also confirmed by studies conducted with methanolic extracts against P. digitatum and Botrytis cinerea [15]. In another study [14], the activity of methanolic extract was used in interrupting the growth of dermatophytic fungi. The authors concluded that the algal alga has an important inhibitory activity for the action on Epidermophyton floccosum and is one of the most effective algae in the published literature. In addition, the preservative effect of B. bifurcata extracts was tested on the quality of chilled hake quality shake. The results highlight the antimicrobial effect of aqueous and ethanolic B. bifurcata extracts in the icing media and demonstrate the potential of macroalgae bioactive compounds to preserve food quality [9].
Similarly, extracts of Fucus spiralis have been tested as antimicrobial and antifungal agents. A study on the antifungal activity of the methanolic extract of F. Spiralis against P. digitatum and Botrytis cinerea [15] showed a moderate effect but pointed out the seasonal variation of this property, since only the extracts from the alga harvested in summer were active. Inhibition of various Gram-positive and Gram-negative microorganisms has been described by N. Grozdanic et al. The most active antibacterial effect was achieved by the n-butanol fraction, with Mics values ranging from 0.04 mg/mL for B. cereus and B. subtilis to 0.14 mg/mL for P. mirabilis and E. coli. In the same study, the effect on the fungi Mucor mucedo, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Aspergilus niger, C. albicans, and P. italicum was also investigated. In both cases (antimicrobial and antifungal activity), the lipid fraction was the most active [17]. This results agree with previous work stating the inhibition of several fungi by phlorotannis from F. spirailis [19]. The activity of F. spiralis extracts prepared by heat-assisted extraction with solvents of different polarity was assessed as solvent properties are an important factor in antimicrobial activity [22]. The results showed that the most active extract was obtained when acetone was used as a solvent, which was active against S. aureus, B. cereus, and Salmonella enteritidis [11]. The antimicrobial activity of F. spiralis extracts was also confirmed by results obtained with dichloromethane/methanol as an extracting solvent, which showed minimal inhibitory concentrations ranging from 2.7 ug/mL (S. aureus) to 1875 ug/mL (E. coli). Among other possibilities, F. spiralis extracts can be used for dermo-cosmetic applications, as they can contribute to the maintenance of a healthy skin microbiota [18].
The antimicrobial capacity of Ascophyllum nodosum was studied in vitro against E. coli serotype O138. The results show a dose-dependent relationship between the inhibitory activity and the concentration of the extract [20]; these results agree with those of Dell’Anno et al., who found an antibacterial action against E. coli O138 evidenced by a decrease in bacteria growth after 3 h attained by 0.12% Ascophyllum nodosum extract concentration, demonstrating a dose-dependent inhibitory effect [21].
The antimicrobial efficacy of an acetone–water mixture (7:3, v/v, 2 mL) A. nodosum extract purified phlorotannins against E. coli. O138, Salmonella agona, and Streptococcus suis have been examined before and showed a range of MICs for the different pathogens between 1.56 and 0.78 mg/mL. The authors also examined cell membrane permeability and intracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to establish the inhibitory mechanism. They conclude that phlorotannin extracts dramatically lowered the intracellular ATP levels of all three microorganisms. Importantly, when subjected to the same or higher dosages that have been proven to inhibit bacterial growth (up to 25 mg/mL), the phlorotannin extracts exhibited no negative effects on pig intestinal cells, suggesting that they could be used as an alternative and supplement to antibiotics and zinc in animal diets [6].
In summary, we found that the three species of algae studied in this mini review have significant antimicrobial capacity, although it is worth pointing out that several factors affect their antimicrobial performance, from the extraction technique used to variations in maturation and provenience of the algal material. However, their applicability, e.g., as an aid in food preservation, is strong and is an interesting topic for future research into applied technology.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, M.A.P. and J.S.-G.; methodology, M.F.B., J.S.-G. and C.G. validation, C.G. and L.C.; formal analysis, M.F.B.; investigation, A.S., M.C. and S.L.M.; resources, F.C.; writing—original draft preparation, A.S., M.C. and F.C.; writing—review and editing, S.L.M. and M.C.; supervision, M.F.B., J.S.-G. and M.A.P. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


The research leading to these results was supported by MICINN supporting the Ramón y Cajal grant for M.A. Prieto (RYC-2017-22891), by Xunta de Galicia for supporting the program EXCELENCIA-ED431F 2020/12 that supports the work of F. Chamorro, the post-doctoral grant of L. Cassani (ED481B-2021/152), and the pre-doctoral grant of M. Carpena (ED481A 2021/313). The authors would like to thank the EU and FCT for funding through the programs UIDB/50006/2020; UIDP/50006/2020; LA/P/0008/2020 and also to Ibero-American Program on Science and Technology (CYTED— GENOPSYSEN, P223RT0141). Fatima Barroso (2020.03107.CEECIND) and Clara Grosso (CEECIND/03436/2020) thank FCT for the FCT Investigator grant.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Data are contained within the paper.


The authors would like to thank DR Cristina Soares for the original photos used in Figure 1, which were obtained as part of the project iCanSea—Conservas com macroalgas para diferenciação nutricional e sensorial, ref. 3171 ANI-Portugal 2020.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


  1. Hakim, M.M.; Patel, I.C. A Review on Phytoconstituents of Marine Brown Algae. Futur. J. Pharm. Sci. 2020, 6, 129. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  2. Li, Y.; Zheng, Y.; Zhang, Y.; Yang, Y.; Wang, P.; Imre, B.; Wong, A.C.Y.; Hsieh, Y.S.Y.; Wang, D. Brown Algae Carbohydrates: Structures, Pharmaceutical Properties, and Research Challenges. Mar. Drugs 2021, 19, 620. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. Catarino, M.D.; Pires, S.M.G.; Silva, S.; Costa, F.; Braga, S.S.; Pinto, D.C.G.A.; Silva, A.M.S.; Cardoso, S.M. Overview of Phlorotannins’ Constituents in Fucales. Mar. Drugs 2022, 20, 754. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. Pais, A.C.S.; Saraiva, J.A.; Rocha, S.M.; Silvestre, A.J.D.; Santos, S.A.O. Current Research on the Bioprospection of Linear Diterpenes from Bifurcaria bifurcata: From Extraction Methodologies to Possible Applications. Mar. Drugs 2019, 17, 556. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  5. Kumaran, S.; Deivasigamani, B.; Alagappan, K.; Sakthivel, M.; Karthikeyan, R. Antibiotic Resistant Esherichia Coli Strains from Seafood and Its Susceptibility to Seaweed Extracts. Asian Pac. J. Trop. Med. 2010, 3, 977–981. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  6. Ford, L.; Stratakos, A.C.; Theodoridou, K.; Dick, J.T.A.A.; Sheldrake, G.N.; Linton, M.; Corcionivoschi, N.; Walsh, P.J. Polyphenols from Brown Seaweeds as a Potential Antimicrobial Agent in Animal Feeds. ACS Omega 2020, 5, 9093–9103. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  7. Silva, A.; Silva, S.A.; Lourenço-Lopes, C.; Jimenez-Lopez, C.; Carpena, M.; Gullón, P.; Fraga-Corral, M.; Domingues, V.F.; Barroso, M.F.; Simal-Gandara, J.; et al. Antibacterial Use of Macroalgae Compounds against Foodborne Pathogens. Antibiotics 2020, 9, 712. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  8. Smith, J.; Fratamico, P. Escherichia coli as Other Enterobacteriaceae: Food Poisoning and Health Effects. In The Encyclopedia of Food; Caballero, B., Finglas, P., Toldra, F., Eds.; Oxford Academic: Oxford, UK, 2016; pp. 539–544. [Google Scholar]
  9. Miranda, J.M.; Zhang, B.; Barros-Velázquez, J.; Aubourg, S.P. Preservative Effect of Aqueous and Ethanolic Extracts of the Macroalga Bifurcaria bifurcata on the Quality of Chilled Hake (Merluccius merluccius). Molecules 2021, 26, 3774. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  10. Pisoschi, A.M.; Pop, A.; Georgescu, C.; Turcuş, V.; Olah, N.K.; Mathe, E. An Overview of Natural Antimicrobials Role in Food. Eur. J. Med. Chem. 2018, 143, 922–935. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  11. Silva, A.; Rodrigues, C.; Garcia-Oliveira, P.; Lourenço-Lopes, C.; Silva, S.A.; Garcia-Perez, P.; Carvalho, A.P.; Domingues, V.F.; Barroso, M.F.; Delerue-Matos, C.; et al. Screening for Bioactive Properties on Brown Algae from the Northwest Iberian Peninsula. Foods 2021, 10, 1915. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  12. Rubiño, S.; Peteiro, C.; Aymerich, T.; Hortós, M. Brown Macroalgae (Phaeophyceae): A Valuable Reservoir of Antimicrobial Compounds on Northern Coast of Spain. Mar. Drugs 2022, 20, 775. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. Fayzi, L.; Askarne, L.; Boufous, E.H.; Cherifi, O.; Cherifi, K. Antioxidant and Antifungal Activity of Some Moroccan Seaweeds Against Three Postharvest Fungal Pathogens. Asian J. Plant Sci. 2022, 21, 328–338. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  14. Carvalho, G.L.; Silva, R.; Gonçalves, J.M.; Batista, T.M.; Pereira, L. Extracts of the Seaweed Bifurcaria Bifurcata Display Antifungal Activity against Human Dermatophyte Fungi. J. Oceanol. Limnol. 2019, 37, 848–854. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  15. Bahammou, N.; Raja, R.; Carvalho, I.S.; Cherifi, K.; Bouamama, H.; Cherifi, O. Assessment of the Antifungal and Antioxidant Activities of the Seaweeds Collected from the Coast of Atlantic Ocean, Morocco. Moroccan J. Chem. 2021, 9, 639–648. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  16. Benhniya, B.; Lakhdar, F.; Rezzoum, N.; Etahiri, S. GC/MS Analysis and Antibacterial Potential of Macroalgae Extracts Harvested on Moroccan Atlantic Coast. Egypt. J. Chem. 2022, 65, 171–179. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  17. Grozdanić, N.; Đuričić, I.; Kosanić, M.; Zdunić, G.; Šavikin, K.; Etahiri, S.; Assobhei, O.; Benba, J.; Petović, S.; Matić, I.Z.; et al. Fucus spiralis Extract and Fractions: Anticancer and Pharma- Cological Potentials. J. BOUN 2020, 25, 1219–1229. [Google Scholar]
  18. Freitas, R.; Martins, A.; Silva, J.; Alves, C.; Pinteus, S.; Alves, J.; Teodoro, F.; Ribeiro, H.M.; Gonçalves, L.; Petrovski, Ž.; et al. Highlighting the Biological Potential of the Brown Seaweed Fucus Spiralis for Skin Applications. Antioxidants 2020, 9, 611. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  19. Lopes, G.; Pinto, E.; Andrade, P.B.; Valentão, P. Antifungal Activity of Phlorotannins against Dermatophytes and Yeasts: Approaches to the Mechanism of Action and Influence on Candida Albicans Virulence Factor. PLoS ONE 2013, 8, e72203. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  20. Frazzini, S.; Scaglia, E.; Dell’Anno, M.; Reggi, S.; Panseri, S.; Giromini, C.; Lanzoni, D.; Sgoifo Rossi, C.A.; Rossi, L. Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activity of Algal and Cyanobacterial Extracts: An In Vitro Study. Antioxidants 2022, 11, 992. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  21. Dell’Anno, M.; Sotira, S.; Rebucci, R.; Reggi, S.; Castiglioni, B.; Rossi, L. In Vitro Evaluation of Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Activities of Algal Extracts. Ital. J. Anim. Sci. 2020, 19, 103–113. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  22. Vicente, T.F.L.; Félix, C.; Félix, R.; Valentão, P.; Lemos, M.F.L. Seaweed as a Natural Source against Phytopathogenic Bacteria. Mar. Drugs 2022, 21, 23. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Figure 1. Macroalgae discussed in this work: detailed outlook and in their natural environment.
Figure 1. Macroalgae discussed in this work: detailed outlook and in their natural environment.
Blsf 31 00026 g001
Disclaimer/Publisher’s Note: The statements, opinions and data contained in all publications are solely those of the individual author(s) and contributor(s) and not of MDPI and/or the editor(s). MDPI and/or the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to people or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content.

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Silva, A.; Carpena, M.; Morais, S.L.; Grosso, C.; Cassani, L.; Chamorro, F.; Barroso, M.F.; Simal-Gandara, J.; Prieto, M.A. A Study on the Antimicrobial Activity of Algae Extract: The Fucales Order Case. Biol. Life Sci. Forum 2024, 31, 26.

AMA Style

Silva A, Carpena M, Morais SL, Grosso C, Cassani L, Chamorro F, Barroso MF, Simal-Gandara J, Prieto MA. A Study on the Antimicrobial Activity of Algae Extract: The Fucales Order Case. Biology and Life Sciences Forum. 2024; 31(1):26.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Silva, Aurora, Maria Carpena, Stephanie Lopes Morais, Clara Grosso, Lucia Cassani, Frank Chamorro, Maria Fátima Barroso, Jesus Simal-Gandara, and Miguel A. Prieto. 2024. "A Study on the Antimicrobial Activity of Algae Extract: The Fucales Order Case" Biology and Life Sciences Forum 31, no. 1: 26.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop