The Biological Significance of Tannins: An Overview
This chapter provides an overview of the author’s perceptions on the biological significance of tannins both with respect to a) their functions as specialized metabolites within plants and b) the consequences of the properties of these compounds with regard to their use as food or renewable materials by man. The former is, as shown in the preceding chapters, particularly undefined. Clarification of the role of polyflavanoids in plants must largely await the results of research yet to be performed. All chemists studying the hydrolyzable or condensed tannins no doubt share Edwin Haslam’s “serious and nagging fear that a part at least of (their) scientific career(s) has been spent inspecting the loot in the garbage bin of plant metabolism”.1 With few exceptions, this same concern must be expressed about what we know about their significance to man. However, considering the advances in our knowledge of tannins as summarized in this volume, we all have reason to be confident that there are good reasons for the the large amount of photosynthetic energy that is expended in biosynthesis of these compounds and with some ingenuity man can take advantage of that synthesis in improving his well-being.
KeywordsDietary Fiber Biological Significance Cinnamic Acid Condensed Tannin Urease Activity
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