Abstract Background In order to detect the antimicrobial mechanism of combined treatment of cinnamon oil and gamma irradiation (GI), the membrane fatty acids and proteins characteristics of Shewanella putrefaciens ( S. putrefaciens ) treated with cinnamon oil and GI, and the distribution of cinnamon oil in S. putrefaciens were observed in this study. Results The membrane lipid profile of S. putrefaciens was notably damaged by treatments of cinnamon oil and the combination of cinnamon oil and GI, with significantly fatty acids decrease in C14:0, C16:0, C16:1, C17:1, C18:1 ( p \ua0<\ua00.05). The SDS-PAGE result showed that GI did not have obvious effect on membrane proteins (MP), but GI combined with cinnamon oil changed the MP subunits. Cinnamaldehyde, the main component of cinnamon oil, can not transport into S. putrefaciens obviously. It was transformed into cinnamyl alcohol in the nutrient broth with the action of S. putrefaciens . This indicated that the antimicrobial action of cinnamon oil mainly happened on the membrane of S. putrefaciens. Conclusion Cinnamon oil could act on the membrane of S. putrefaciens with the damage of fatty acids and proteins, and GI would increase the destructive capability of cinnamon oil on the membrane fatty acids and proteins of S. putrefaciens
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