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Meissenger in 1819 for the basic, nitrogen containing compounds of plant origin , Alkaloid occur only in certain genera and families, distributed in large group of plant. They are found in many plant families. Perhaps 2030% of all plant species accumulate alkaloids. They are much more common in families such as the Solanaceae and Apocynaceae where as many as 60-70% of species accumulate alkaloids. Many alkaloids are used in medicine. They sometimes are very expensive (e.g., vincristine, which sells for as much as $22,000 per gram. Many alkaloids are toxic. They often are responsible for the properties of plants poisonous to livestock.
Investigation of the chemistry of the various -:Alkaloid led to two more characteristics A - Complex molecular structure B - Significant pharmacological activity
And that would be discussed and assured in form of details about one of the most important natural products known which is the Plant .Alkaloid
Most alkaloids are derived from a few common amino acids. Most have physiological activity. Most are basic, but have non-basic forms, such as quaternary compounds and N-oxides. Alkaloids are a vast group of natural products of plants, and fungi that containing nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and usually oxygen.They posses nitrogencontaining heterocyclic rings.
Then Alkaloid generally defined as:-
“Physiologically active basic
organic compounds of plant origin, in which at least one nitrogen atom forms part of a cyclic system.”
On the basis of this definition, Alkaloid are grouped into three groups as follows:(a) True Alkaloids:
a)Include Alkaloid which are derived from amino acids b)Having nitrogen in a heterocyclic ring. c) Normally occuring in plants as the salt of an organic acid (exception , colchicine and aristolochic acid which are not basic and have no heterocyclic ring.)
(b) Proto Alkaloids:
a) Include Alkaloids which are derived from amino acid.
b) It’s nitrogen is not in a heterocyclic ring, Examples ( mescaline and ephedrine ).
(c) Pseudo Alkaloids:
a) These are not derived from amino acid. b) b) typically basic.
.(Colourless but few are coloured e.g (berberine is yellow -1
“Many alkaloids give simple color and precipitation reactions, such as with Dragendorf's reagent, that make it relatively easy to determine their presence or absence in plant material.”
Crystalline -2 It could be in the form of non-volavtile solids which are -3 insoluble in water but are soluble in Ethanol , Ether ,and ....Chloroform ,etc (e.g (Conine and Nicotine .Most Alkaloids have a bitter taste and are optically active -4 .Inspite of the fact that they are generally tertiary nitrogen -5 Compounds in aring system ; most of alkaloids also contain .oxygen Many alkaloid have neuro-active properties and interact with -6 the receptors at nerve endings , this is not surprising , since many alkaloids resemble the natural substances .the neuro transmitters ) that bind to these receptors )
Alkaloid have ability to form salts and complex with metal ions -7 .which helped their separation and detection 8-Many alkaloids have an oxidation state of –III but some have quaternary nitrogens and oxidative states as high as +III [e.g., aristolochich acid I from Aristo lochia], these are acidic.
Since the alkaloid from insoluble preciphtates with solution of phosphotungstic acid , phosphomolybdic acid , picric acid , potassium mercuri iodide , etc... ... many of these precipitates have definite crystalline .shapes and so may be used to help in the identification of an alkaloid Some of these reagents are also used as a means of detecting .alkaloid in paper and thin layer chromatography
A new non-destructive method for the detection of alkaloids in plant tissue has been developed by a team of US researchers. Graham Cooks and colleagues from Purdue University, Indiana, used the new method to detect atropine and coniine, the main poisonous compounds in hemlock. Alkaloid compounds are common in plants and are often known to have useful medicinal purposes. Cooks and his team used mass spectrometry to analyse these alkaloid compounds in plant material without any sample preparation. Their innovation was to produce the positive ions by desorption electrospray ionization (DESI). They sprayed tiny charged droplets of solvent onto an unprepared sample, leaving it more or less intact. DESI works at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, unlike other techniques that require high vacuum or heating.
“ The technique was demonstrated with poison hemlock and deadly nightshade, but it could be applied to other alkaloids like those known to have useful medicinal properties in drug discovery and development.”
Because of the complex structure of the alkaloids and of historical reasons no attempt has been made for the systematic .nomenclature for alkaloids By agreement , chemical rules designate that names of alkaloids should end with suffix (-ine) indicating abase and usually .indicate the source of the alkaloid
The names of alkaloids are -:obtained in various ways
.A) From the generic name of the plant yielding them ( e.g. atropine ) .B) From the specific name of the plant yielding them ( e.g. cocaine , belladonine ) .C) From their physiological property ( e.g. hygrine, hygro=moist ) .E) Occasionally of discover ( e.g. pelletierine, after peletier ) F) From the commen name of the drug yielding them ( e.g. ergotamine )
Structural formula of alkaloid have been written in various .ways in the literature Formula have been quite common in the past , but the tendency now is to use pentagons , hexagons , etc.. .... and also .( conformational representations ( e.g.Tropane
Most alkaloid are obtained from natural sources , but few .are synthesized commerially
a) The major source of alkaloids is the) .flowering plants , Angiosperms b) - The most important alkaloid bearing) -: families are
Liliaceae , Amaryllidaceous , Asteraceae , Ranunculaceae , Lauraseae , Papyeraceae , Leguminosae , Rutaceae , .Loganiaceae , Solanaceae , Apocyanaceae , Rubiaceae
-: The seeds ofTrigonela foenum graecum , Pisum sativa . Also it mainly .occurs in soybeans and potatos
c) Not only the one type of alkaloid found in) a specific genus of plant , but also it may be found in different .genera of the same family
d) Some species of fungi have the ability to) produce ergot alkaloids as a type of their secondary metabolites which known as mycotoxins . Some of these species -:are
Claviceps purpurea , Claviceps fusiformis and ...Claviceps gigantus , etc
e) Recently , Alkaloid are found in some) animals , insects
.and marine organisms
The Alkaloid were earlier classified according to their plant source e.g. . Conitum The classification of the alkaloids is complex and may be guided by a set of rules that take into account the structure and other chemical features of the alkaloid molecule, its biological origin, as well as the biogenetic originwhere known. For example, where the biosynthesis pathway of an alkaloid is unknown, it may be grouped based on structural similarities with known compounds, including non-nitrogenous compounds, or by the .organisms from which the alkaloid was isolated Nowadays , classification is based on the structure of the ring system containing the nitrogen atom , result in the -:following groups
-:Phenyl ethyl amine group 
.e.g -a) β-phenyl ethyl amine .b) D (-) ephedrine.(c) Benzedrine (Amphetamine.e) Mescaine(f) β-phyoxy phenyl ethyl amine = (Tyramine.g) Hordenine.h) Adrenaline-
-:Pyrrolidine - Pyridine group 
.e.g -a) Tobacco alkaloids e.g Nicotine .b) Solanaceous alkaloid e.g Atropine-
-:Pyridine and piperidine group 
.e.g -a) Piperine .b) Pomegranate.c) hemlock.d) Ricine.e) Trigonelline.f) Area (Betel) nut alkaloids-
-:Pyrolidine group 
.e.g -a) Hygrine
-:Quinoline group 
.e.g -a) Angostura b) Cinchona alkaloids - CinchonineCluinine -
-:Opium alkaloid-:That divided into three groups
-:Iso quinoline group 
.e.g -a) papaverine .b) Laudanosine-
-:Phenanthrene group  .e.g -a) Morphine -:Indol group 
.e.g. -a) Gramine .b) Quebrachamine.c) Heptaphyline .d) Sceletium alkaloid-
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