Alkaloids pp 301-326 | Cite as

Modes of Action of Alkaloids

  • Michael Wink


We can safely assume that most alkaloids play an important role in the ecology of plants. In general, alkaloids serve as defense chemicals against herbivores and to a lesser degree against bacteria, fungi, and viruses or provide a means of interaction with other plants (see Chapters 13 and 14). A protective function has also been attributed to those alkaloids that are produced or sequestered by animals (see Chapters 15 and 16). In order to fulfill this function, alkaloids must closely interact with specific targets in herbivores, predators, microorganisms, or competing plants, i.e., they must either inhibit or otherwise deregulate important processes that are vital for these organisms. A thorough understanding of how these capabilities are effected is important for a comprehension of the evolutionary and ecological implications of alkaloids and their rational use in medicine or as natural pesticides in agriculture.


Ergot Alkaloid Aristolochic Acid Pyrrolizidine Alkaloid Tropane Alkaloid Steroidal Alkaloid 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


Major Reviews

  1. Alberts, B., Bray, D., Lewis, J., Raff, M., Roberts, K., and Watson, J. D., 1993, Molecular Biology of the Cell, 3rd ed., Garland, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Habermehl, G., 1983, Gifttiere und ihre Waffen, Springer, Berlin.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Harborne, J. B., 1993, Introduction to Ecological Biochemistry, 4th ed., Academic Press, San Diego.Google Scholar
  4. Luckner, M., 1990, Secondary Metabolism in Microorganisms, Plants and Animals, Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  5. Mann, J., 1992, Murder, Magic and Medicine, Oxford University Press, London.Google Scholar
  6. Mothes, K., Schütte, H. R., and Luckner, M., 1985, Biochemistry of Alkaloids, VCH, Weinheim.Google Scholar
  7. Mutschier, E., 1981, Arzneimittelwirkungen, WVG, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  8. Rimpler, H., 1990, Pharmazeutische Biologie II: Biogene Arzeneistojfe, Thieme, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  9. Robinson, T. A., 1981, The Biochemistry of Alkaloids, Springer, Berlin.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Rosenthal, G. A., and Berenbaum, M. R., 1991, Herbivores: Their Interactions with Secondary Plant Metabolites, Vol. 1, Academic Press, San Diego.Google Scholar
  11. Rosenthal, G. A., and Berenbaum, M. R., 1992, Herbivores: Their Interactions with Secondary Plant Metabolites, Vol. 2, Academic Press, San Diego.Google Scholar
  12. Roth, L., Daunderer, M., and Kormann, K., 1994, Giftpflanzen und Pflanzengifte, 4th ed., Ecomed, Landsberg.Google Scholar
  13. Teuscher, E., and Lindequist, U., 1994, Biogene Gifte, Fischer, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  14. Wagner, H., 1993, Pharmazeutische Biologic 2. Drogen und ihre Inhaltsstoffe, Fischer, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  15. Waller, G., 1987, Allelochemicals: Roles in Agriculture and Forestry, ACS Symp. Ser. 330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Wink, M., 1992a, Die chemische Verteidigung der Pflanzen und die Anpassungen der Pflanzenfresser, in: “Lupinen 1991Forschung, Anbau und Verwertung (M. Wink, ed.), University of Heidelberg Press, Heidelberg, pp. 130–156.Google Scholar
  17. Wink, M., 1992b, The role of quinolizidine alkaloids in plant insect interactions, in: Insect-Plant Interactions, Vol. IV (E. A. Bernays, ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp. 133–169.Google Scholar
  18. Wink, M., 1993a, Allelochemical properties or the raison d’être of alkaloids, in: The Alkaloids, Vol. 43 (G. A. Cordeil, ed.), Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 1–118.Google Scholar
  19. Wink, M., 1993b, Production and application of phytochemicals from an agricultural perspective, in: Phy-tochemistry and Agriculture, Vol. 34, Proc. Phytochem. Soc. Eur. (T. A. van Beek and H. Breteler, eds.), Oxford University Press, London, pp. 171–213.Google Scholar

Key References

  1. Holzinger, F., Frick, C., and Wink, M., 1992, Molecular base for the insensitivity of the monarch (Danaus plexippus) to cardiac glycosides, FEBS Lett. 314:477–480.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Kebabian, J. W., and Neumeyer, J. L., 1994, The RBI Handbook of Receptor Classification, RBI, Natick.Google Scholar
  3. Lodish, H., Baltimore, D., Berk, A., Zipursky, S. L., Matsudaira, P., and Darnell, J., 1995, Molculear Cell Biology. 3rd Ed., Scientific American Books, Inc., New York.Google Scholar
  4. Reynolds, J. E. F. (ed.), 1993, Martindale—The Extra Pharmacopoeia, The Pharmaceutical Press, London.Google Scholar
  5. Schmeller, T., Sauerwein, M., Sporer, F., Müller, W. E., and Wink, M., 1994, Binding of quinolizidine alkaloids to nicotinic and muscarinic receptors, J. Nat. Prod. 57:1316–1319.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Schmeller, T., Sporer, F., Sauerwein, M., and Wink, M., 1995, Binding of tropane alkaloids to nicotinic and muscarinic receptors, Pharmazie 50:493–495.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Wink, M., and Latz-Brüning, B., 1995, Allelopathic properties of alkaloids and other natural products: Possible modes of action, in: Allelopathy: Organisms, Processes and Applications (Inderjit, Dakshini, K. M. M., and Einhellig, F. A., eds.), ACS Symp. Ser. 582, pp. 117–126.Google Scholar
  8. Wink, M., and Twardowski, T., 1992, Allelochemical properties of alkaloids. Effects on plants, bacteria and protein biosynthesis, in: Allelopathy: Basic and Applied Aspects (S. J. H. Rizvi and V. Rizvi, eds.), Chapman & Hall, London, pp. 129–150.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Wink
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Pharmaceutical BiologyUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

Personalised recommendations