Plant toxins-useful and harmful effects
Hygeia.J.D.Med.4 (1), April 2012-October 2012,79-90
Authors: Chandra Sekhar J, Sandhya S*, Vinod KR, David Banji, Sudhakar K, Chaitanya RSNAKK
Affiliations: Department of Pharmacognosy, Nalanda College of Pharmacy, Cherlapally, Nalgonda, Andhra Pradesh, India-508001.
Received: 29 November, 2011,
Revised: 20 December 2011,
Accepted: 25 December 2011,
Available online: 5 April 2012
Plan: To review the useful and harmful effects of plant toxins.
Prologue: Poisonous chemicals found in plants are normal biochemicals. They have been developed as an evolutionary response for self-protection. Therefore, plants are deliberately poisonous and their toxicity to humans and other animals is an example of natural selection.. The surviving plants, therefore, have not been subjected to selective pressures which might influence them to produce toxins. The alkaloids are by far the most predominant of plant toxins and because of their enormous structural diversity and various modes of action, examples may be chosen from among them to serve as paradigms for virtually every type of plant-herbivore interaction.
Outcome: Since plant toxins show many useful effects they can be used in treating respective diseases. They can be modified to show better affinity and efficacy. Regardless of the structure of a particular toxin, it is likely to have evolved and been elaborated biosynthetically under pressure from a specific predator or limited group of predators. Commercial crops for human food usage must therefore have optimal concentration of biologically active natural products, low enough to be nontoxic to the consumer (at least when eaten in reasonable quantities) but sufficiently great to repel or limit pests.
Key words: Toxins, secondary metabolites, alkaloids, herbivore, adverse effect
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