Biological activities associated with the volatile compound 2,5-bis(1-methylethyl)-pyrazine

Thierry K.S. Janssens, Olaf Tyc*, Harrie Besselink, Wietse de Boer, Paolina Garbeva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Pyrazines are 1,4-diazabenzene-based volatile organic compounds and known for their broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. In the present study, we assessed the antimicrobial activity of 2,5-bis(1-methylethyl)-pyrazine, produced by Paenibacillus sp. AD87 during co-culture with Burkholderia sp. AD24. In addition, we were using transcriptional reporter assays in E. coli and mammalian cells to decipher the possible mode of action. Bacterial and mammalian luciferase reporter strains were deployed to elucidate antimicrobial and toxicological effects of 2,5-bis(1-methylethyl)-pyrazine. At high levels of exposure, 2,5-bis(1-methylethyl)-pyrazine exerted strong DNA damage response. At lower concentrations, cell-wall damage response was observed. The activity was corroborated by a general toxicity reporter assay in E. coli ΔampD, defective in peptidoglycan turnover. The maximum E. coli cell-wall stress activity was measured at a concentration close to the onset of the mammalian cytotoxicity, while other adverse outcome pathways, such as the activation of aryl hydrocarbon and estrogenic receptor, the p53 tumour suppressor and the oxidative stress-related Nrf2 transcription factor, were induced at elevated concentrations compared to the response of mammalian cells. Because of its broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity at lower concentrations and the relatively low mammalian toxicity, 2,5-bis(1-methylethyl)-pyrazine is a potential bio-based fumigant with possible applications in food industry, agriculture or logistics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Burkholderia
  • Paenibacillus
  • mode of action
  • pyrazine
  • toxicity
  • transcriptional reporter assays
  • volatiles


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