Plant Secondary Metabolites and Their General Function in Plants

  • Angelika BöttgerEmail author
  • Ute Vothknecht
  • Cordelia Bolle
  • Alexander Wolf
Part of the Learning Materials in Biosciences book series (LMB)


Primary metabolites are compounds that are associated with essential cellular functions. Therefore, they are very much ubiquitously found in all plants. By contrast, secondary metabolites have much more specific functions. They are often species specific and can be dispensable under many conditions. Nevertheless, the basis of most secondary metabolites are by-products or intermediates of primary metabolism. Secondary metabolites do not generally increase a plant fitness, but in the natural environment, they might be essential for survival and reproduction. They are thus mostly made under controlled conditions for a specific purpose such as defence against pathogens and herbivores, improved tolerance to abiotic stresses, attraction of insects and animals for fertilization and/or seed dispersal or repellence of unwanted feeders.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angelika Böttger
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ute Vothknecht
    • 2
  • Cordelia Bolle
    • 3
  • Alexander Wolf
    • 4
  1. 1.Department Biology IILMU MunichPlanegg-MartinsriedGermany
  2. 2.IZMB-Plant Cell BiologyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  3. 3.Department Biology ILMU MunichPlanegg-MartinsriedGermany
  4. 4.Inst. Molecular Toxicology/PharmacologyHelmholtz Zentrum MünichNeuherbergGermany

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