Definition Typology and Occurrence of Alkaloids

Docendo discimus.


Abstract: Alkaloids are a group of molecules with a relatively large occurrence in nature around the Globe. They are very diverse chemicals and biomolecules, but they are all secondary compounds and they are derived from amino acids or from the transamination process. Alkaloids are classified according to the amino acids that provide their nitrogen atom and part of their skeleton. Similar alkaloids can have quite different biosynthetic pathways and different bioimpacts. Alkaloids are derived from L-lysine, L-ornithine, L-tyrosine, L-tryptophan, L-histidine, L-phenylalanine, nicotinic acid, anthranilic acid or acetate. The terpenoid, steroid and purine alkaloids are also important. Millions of people around the Globe use purine alkaloids every day whether starting the day with a cup of coffee or drinking a cup of tea in the afternoon. Alkaloids also occur in the animal kingdom. Differently from plants, the source of these molecules in an animal's body can be endogenous or exogenous. Alkaloids are molecules participating in both producer and consumer chains in nature. They are vital in feeding, and enjoy servations, agressivity and defence of the species. Homo sapiens is one of them.

Key words: alkaloid, alkaloid derivation, alkaloid occurrence, heterocycles, molecular precursors, protoalkaloids, pseudoalkaloids, true alkaloids

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