Defenses, Chemical - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Plant Sciences

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Types of Chemical Defenses

Alkaloids.

There are more than ten thousand different alkaloids and relatives known from plants. Alkaloids are cyclic nitrogen-containing compounds. They are widely distributed among many higher plant families, where they are often produced in roots. Their activity in animals is diverse, but many interfere with neurotransmitters. When consumed, many alkaloids are addictive. Examples include caffeine (coffee), morphine (poppy), tomatine (tomato), nicotine (tobacco), and lupine alkaloids (legumes).

Cyanogenic Glycosides.

Cyanogenic glycosides also contain nitrogen, bound with other carbons to a sugar. Certain plant and animal enzymes can remove the sugar, freeing hydrogen cyanide, which poisons the energy-producing mitochondria in all cells. Probably all plants can produce cyanogenic compounds, but they are most common in legumes (for example, bird's-foot trefoil) and the fruits of plants in the rose/apple family (Rosaceae); they have the odor of almonds.

Terpenoids.

Terpenoids are the second-largest group of secondary compounds...

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This section contains 2,105 words
(approx. 8 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Defenses, Chemical Encyclopedia Article
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Macmillan Science Library: Plant Sciences
Defenses, Chemical from Macmillan Science Library: Plant Sciences. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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