Plant-derived substances have regained interest in the fight against antibiotic resistance owing to their distinct antimicrobial mechanisms and multi-target properties. With the recent advances in instrumentation and analysis techniques, OMIC approaches are extensively used for target identification and elucidation of the mechanism of phytochemicals in drug discovery. In the current study, RNA sequencing based transcriptional profiling together with global differential protein expression analysis was used to comparatively elaborate the activities and the effects of the plant alkaloids boldine, bulbocapnine, and roemerine along with the well-known antimicrobial alkaloid berberine in Bacillus subtilis cells. The transcriptomic findings were validated by qPCR. Images from scanning electron microscope were obtained to visualize the effects on the whole-cells. The results showed that among the three selected alkaloids, only roemerine possessed antibacterial activity. Unlike berberine, which is susceptible to efflux through multidrug resistance pumps, roemerine accumulated in the cells. This in turn resulted in oxidative stress and building up of reactive oxygen species, which eventually deregulated various pathways such as iron uptake. Treatment with boldine or bulbocapnine slightly affected various metabolic pathways but has not changed the growth patterns at all. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.