Role of Alkaloids in Plants

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Antropa belladonna

Antropa belladonna

What are Alkaloids and how are they synthesized?

The alkaloids are generally poisonous in nature, but when they are used in minute amounts, they exhibit useful physiological effects on animals and human beings. Hence they secured a significant place in medicine.

Their exact role and functions are not known exactly but what we came to know is that they are synthesised by a particular, stereo specific  complicated and energy consuming pathways. Further they are metabolized to alkaloidal or non alkaloidal substances.

Some of the roles of alkaloids in the plants are:

  1. Alkaloids are the reserve substances which have the ability to supply nitrogen.
  2. They might be the defensive mechanisms for the plants growing in dry regions like deserts to protect from the grazing animals, herbivores and also insects.
  3. They might be end products of detoxification mechanisms in plants. By this way they check the formation of substances which are having harmful effects on the plants.
  4. They might have the possible role as growth regulatory factors in plants.
  5. They are normally present in conjugation with plant acids like meconic acid, cinchotannic acid etc.
  6. Alkaloids would be the carriers within the plants for transportation os some acids.

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