Biochemistry of The Coumarins

  • Stewart A. Brown
Part of the Recent Advances in Phytochemistry book series (RAPT, volume 12)


The coumarins are a group of lactones derived from benzopyrone. Since the discovery by Vogel over a century and a half ago of the simplest member of the class, coumarin itself (1), inDipteryx (Coumarouna) odorataWilld (the tonka bean), this compound and a great range of its structural derivatives have been shown to occur in hundreds of plant species, as well as in certain other organisms8 7, 99. Many synthetic derivatives, of course, also exist. Although coumarin is the simplest representative of its class, it is really atypical of the class in that it lacks oxygenation at position 7. Of well over 500 known naturally occurring coumarins, only a dozen or so lack a hydroxyl or ether oxygen at this position8 7, and it is therfore more appropriate to regard 7-hydroxycoumarin (umbelliferone, 2, R = H) as the parent compound from which other coumarins are structurally derived. As will be noted presently, this derivation is also valid from the biosynthetic standpoint.


Cinnamic Acid Shikimic Acid Mevalonic Acid Ficus Carica Sweet Clover 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stewart A. Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryTrent UniversityPeterborough, OntarioCanada

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