The cell and developmental biology of alkaloid biosynthesis

Trends Plant Sci. 2000 Apr;5(4):168-73. doi: 10.1016/s1360-1385(00)01575-2.


Plants produce unique natural products as a result of gene mutation and subsequent adaptation of metabolic pathways to create new secondary metabolites. However, their biosynthesis and accumulation remains remarkably under the control of the biotic and abiotic environments. Alkaloid biosynthesis, which requires the adaptation of cellular activities to perform specialized metabolism without compromising general homeostasis, is accomplished by restricting product biosynthesis and accumulation to particular cells and to defined times of plant development. The cell and developmental biology of alkaloid biosynthesis, which is remarkably complex, evolved in part by recruiting pre-existing enzymes to perform new functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / biosynthesis*
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism
  • Plants / metabolism*


  • Alkaloids