β-Asarone Exhibits Antifungal Activity by Inhibiting Ergosterol Biosynthesis in Aspergillus niger ATCC 16888

  • Ramya Venkatesan
  • Prakash Shyam Karuppiah
  • Gnanamani Arumugam
  • Kadalmani BalamuthuEmail author
Research Article


Fungi play an important role in the degradation of leather goods. Economics often influence the choice of fungicide, thus, search for highly effective and low cost fungicides is immensely important. The authors have screened antifungal activity of ten Indian traditional medicinal plants viz Acalypha fruticosa, Acalypha indica, Aegle marmelos, Adathoda vasika, Calotropis gigantea, Erythrina indica, Morinda citrifolia, Nerium oleander, Pithecellobium dulce, and Acorus calamus based upon their traditional knowledge and usage. Various solvent extracts and essential oils were screened for antifungal activity against Aspergillus niger. The antifungal potency was compared to untreated control and standard antifungal drugs itraconazole and voriconazole. The bioactive principle from highly active fragment was isolated and chemically characterized. The mode of action was determined by a range of studies that include the lesion of plasma membrane, ergosterol content in the plasma membrane, acidification of external medium, and mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity in A. niger ATCC 16888. Among the ten plants studied, A. calamus exhibited greater antifungal potency in comparison to untreated control and standard drugs itraconazole and voriconazole. The minimum inhibitory concentration of both methanolic extract and essential oil of A. calamus against A. niger ATCC 16888 is around 5 µg/ml. The authors identified β-Asarone as the bioactive principle of A. calamus using spectral studies viz ultraviolet–visible spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and gas chromatography coupled mass spectroscopy. The results indicate that β-Asarone interfere and reduces the ergosterol content in the plasma membrane of A. niger ATCC 16888 thus exert their antifungal activity.


Antifungal activity Acorus calamus Essential oil Methanolic extract Aspergillus niger 



American Type Culture Collection


Czapek Dox Agar


Yeast Extract Sucrose


Minimum inhibitory concentration


Ultraviolet–visible spectroscopy


Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy


Gas chromatography coupled mass spectroscopy


Differential scanning colorimetry


Thermo gravimetric analysis


Thin layer chromatography



The authors thank all the members of Dr. Gnanamani Laboratory for helpful discussions. One of the authors RV expresses her sincere thanks to Dr. Tirupathi Kumara Raja and her fellow students Ms. S. Swaathy, Ms. S. Iswarya and Ms. Nisha Bharathi. RV acknowledges Centralized Sophisticated Instrumentation Laboratory, for instrumental analysis. The authors are grateful to Dr. Subha, Bharthi Womens College, Chennai and Dr. Sahaya Pravin, CLRI, Adyar, Chennai for authenticating plant materials.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no potential conflict of interest in terms of funding.

Supplementary material

40011_2017_930_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.7 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1777 kb)


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Copyright information

© The National Academy of Sciences, India 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ramya Venkatesan
    • 1
  • Prakash Shyam Karuppiah
    • 2
  • Gnanamani Arumugam
    • 3
  • Kadalmani Balamuthu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Animal Science, School of Life ScienceBharathidasan UniversityTiruchirappalliIndia
  2. 2.Lead Discovery Group, Discovery BiologicsChigene Biotech Private LimitedSivagangaiIndia
  3. 3.Biological Material LaboratoryCSIR-Central Leather Research Institute AdyarChennaiIndia

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