Medicinal Plants as a Source of Alkaloids

  • Valentina Laghezza Masci
  • Stefano Bernardini
  • Lorenzo Modesti
  • Elisa Ovidi
  • Antonio TiezziEmail author
Part of the Microorganisms for Sustainability book series (MICRO, volume 15)


Plants are an important source of biomolecules widely used in medical treatments, and among such products, the alkaloids are a very interesting and complex group. The definition of the term “alkaloid” is still a cause of controversy due to the similarity of some of these natural molecules with other secondary compounds. From a biological point of view, alkaloids are a group of chemicals actively involved in different biological processes of plants, animals, and microorganisms at different cellular levels. In medical science alkaloids are nitrogenous compounds, derived from vegetables origin, characterized by high molecular masses and complex structures. A possible classification of alkaloids is based on their biological and ecological activity, chemical structures, and biosynthetic pathway. They are grouped according to the shape and origins, and in this view three main groups of alkaloids can be distinguished: true alkaloids, protoalkaloids, and pseudoalkaloids.


True alkaloids Protoalkaloids Pseudoalkaloids Pharmaceutical properties 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valentina Laghezza Masci
    • 1
  • Stefano Bernardini
    • 1
  • Lorenzo Modesti
    • 1
  • Elisa Ovidi
    • 1
  • Antonio Tiezzi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Plant Cytology and Biotechnology, Department for the Innovation in Biological, Agro-food and Forestal SystemsTuscia UniversityViterboItaly

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