Biosynthesis of the ergot alkaloids
Covering: 2011 to early 2014
The ergots are a structurally diverse group of alkaloids derived from tryptophan 7 and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) 8. The potent bioactivity of ergot alkaloids have resulted in their use in many applications throughout human history. In this highlight, we recap some of the history of the ergot alkaloids, along with a brief description of the classifications of the different ergot structures and producing organisms. Finally we describe what the advancements that have been made in understanding the biosynthetic pathways, both at the genomic and the biochemical levels. We note that several excellent review on the ergot alkaloids, including one by Wallwey and Li in Nat. Prod. Rep., have been published recently. We provide a brief overview of the ergot alkaloids, and highlight the advances in biosynthetic pathway elucidation that have been made since 2011 in Section 4.