Pelletier, S. William Institute for Natural Product Research, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.
Last reviewed:December 2018
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- Plant-derived alkaloids
- Animal-derived alkaloids
- Marine-derived alkaloids
- Isolation and purification
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A cyclic organic compound that contains nitrogen in a negative oxidation state and is of limited distribution among living organisms. More than 10,000 alkaloids of many different structural types are known; and no other class of natural products possesses such an enormous variety of structures. The exact function of alkaloids in plants (see illustration) is not well understood, but they are often regarded as by-products of plant metabolism. They are sometimes considered to be reservoirs for protein synthesis; as protective agents to discourage attack by animals, insects, or microbes; as regulators of growth, metabolism, and reproduction; and as end products of detoxification of substances whose accumulation might be injurious to the plant. See also: Oxidation-reduction
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