Issue 1, 2021

The scaffold-forming steps of plant alkaloid biosynthesis


Alkaloids from plants are characterised by structural diversity and bioactivity, and maintain a privileged position in both modern and traditional medicines. In recent years, there have been significant advances in elucidating the biosynthetic origins of plant alkaloids. In this review, I will describe the progress made in determining the metabolic origins of the so-called true alkaloids, specialised metabolites derived from amino acids containing a nitrogen heterocycle. By identifying key biosynthetic steps that feature in the majority of pathways, I highlight the key roles played by modifications to primary metabolism, iminium reactivity and spontaneous reactions in the molecular and evolutionary origins of these pathways.

Graphical abstract: The scaffold-forming steps of plant alkaloid biosynthesis

Article information

Article type
Review Article
31 May 2020
First published
03 Aug 2020
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Nat. Prod. Rep., 2021,38, 103-129

The scaffold-forming steps of plant alkaloid biosynthesis

B. R. Lichman, Nat. Prod. Rep., 2021, 38, 103 DOI: 10.1039/D0NP00031K

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