• Angelika BöttgerEmail author
  • Ute Vothknecht
  • Cordelia Bolle
  • Alexander Wolf
Part of the Learning Materials in Biosciences book series (LMB)


Alkaloids are characterized by containing a nitrogen atom, usually within a heterocyclic ring. Many are derived from aromatic amino acids, but for some also other amino acids, ornithine, spermidine, xanthosine and the terpenoids are the basic building blocks. Many well-known compounds such as caffeine, nicotine and atropine fall into this group. The major groups are terpenoid indole alkaloids and benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, but also in many other pathways, toxic or psychedelic alkaloids can be synthesized. The biosynthesis pathway is often spread over different cell types and is very compartmentalized within the cells to avoid toxicity for the plant.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angelika Böttger
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ute Vothknecht
    • 2
  • Cordelia Bolle
    • 3
  • Alexander Wolf
    • 4
  1. 1.Department Biology IILMU MunichPlanegg-MartinsriedGermany
  2. 2.IZMB-Plant Cell BiologyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  3. 3.Department Biology ILMU MunichPlanegg-MartinsriedGermany
  4. 4.Inst. Molecular Toxicology/PharmacologyHelmholtz Zentrum MünichNeuherbergGermany

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