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Plant Secondary Metabolites: Occurrence, Structure and Role in the Human Diet



Plant Secondary Metabolites: Occurrence, Structure and Role in the Human Diet

Alan Crozier (Editor), Mike N. Clifford (Editor), Hiroshi Ashihara (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-405-12509-3 December 2006 Wiley-Blackwell 384 Pages


Plant secondary metabolites have been a fertile area of chemical investigation for many years, driving the development of both analytical chemistry and of new synthetic reactions and methodologies. The subject is multi-disciplinary with chemists, biochemists and plant scientists all contributing to our current understanding. In recent years there has been an upsurge in interest from other disciplines, related to the realisation that secondary metabolites are dietary components that may have a considerable impact on human health, and to the development of gene technology that permits modulation of the contents of desirable and undesirable components.

Plant Secondary Metabolites: Occurrence, Structure and Role in the Human Diet addresses this wider interest by covering the main groups of natural products from a chemical and biosynthetic perspective with illustrations of how genetic engineering can be applied to manipulate levels of secondary metabolites of economic value as well as those of potential importance in diet and health. These descriptive chapters are augmented by chapters showing where these products are found in the diet, how they are metabolised and reviewing the evidence for their beneficial bioactivity.


1 Phenols, Polyphenols and Tannins: An Overview (Alan Crozier, Indu B. Jaganath and Michael N. Clifford).

1.1 Introduction.

1.2 Classification of phenolic compounds.

1.3 Biosynthesis.

1.4 Genetic engineering of the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway.

1.5 Databases.

2 Sulphur-Containing Compounds (Richard Mithen).

2.1 Introduction.

2.2 The glucosinolates-myrosinase system.

2.3 Chemical diversity of glucosinolates in dietary crucifers.

2.4 Biosynthesis.

2.5 Genetic factors affecting glucosinolate content.

2.6 Environmental factors affecting glucosinolate content.

2.7 Myrosinases and glucosinolate hydrolysis.

2.8 Hydrolytic products.

2.9 Metabolism and detoxification of isothiocyanates.

2.10 The Alliin-alliinase system.

2.11 Biological activity of sulphur-containing compounds.

2.12 Anti-nutritional effects in livestock and humans.

2.13 Beneficial effects of sulphur-containing compounds in the human diet.

3 Terpenes (Andrew J. Humphrey and Michael H. Beale).

3.1 Introduction.

3.2 The biosynthesis of IPP and DMAPP.

3.3 Enzymes of terpene biosynthesis.

3.4 Isoprenoid biosynthesis in the plastids.

3.5 Isoprenoid biosynthesis in the cytosol.

3.6 Terpenes in the environment and human health: future prospects.

4 Alkaloids (Katherine G. Zulak, David K. Liscombe, Hiroshi Ashihara and Peter J. Facchini).

4.1 Introduction.

4.2 Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids.

4.3 Tropane alkaloids.

4.4 Nicotine.

4.5 Terpenoid indole alkaloids.

4.6 Purine alkaloids.

4.7 Pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

4.8 Other alkaloids.

4.9 Metabolic engineering.

5 Acetylenes and Psoralens (Lars P. Christensen and Kirsten Brandt).

5.1 Introduction.

5.2 Acetylenes in common food plants.

5.3 Psoralens in common food plants.

5.4 Perspectives in relation to food safety.

6. Functions of the Human Intestinal Flora: The Use of Probiotics and Prebiotics (Kieran M. Tuohy and Glenn R. Gibson).

6.1 Introduction.

6.2 Composition of the gut microflora.

6.3 Successional development and the gut microflora in old age.

6.4 Modulation of the gut microflora through dietary means.

6.5 In vitro and in vivo measurement of microbial activities.

6.6 Molecular methodologies for assessing microflora changes.

6.7 Assessing the impact of dietary modulation of the gut microflora-does it improve health, what are the likelihoods for success and what are the biomarkers of efficacy?

6.8 Justification for the use of probiotics and prebiotics to modulate the gut flora composition.

7 Secondary Metabolites in Fruits, Vegetables, Beverages and Other Plant-Based Dietary Components (Alan Crozier, Takao Yokota, Indu B. Jaganath, Serena Marks, Michael Saltmarsh and Michael N. Clifford).

7.1 Introduction.

7.2 Dietary phytochemicals.

7.3 Vegetables.

7.4 Fruits.

7.5 Herbs and spices.

7.6 Cereals.

7.7 Nuts.

7.8 Algae.

7.9 Beverages.

7.10 Databases.

8 Absorption and Metabolism of Dietary Plant Secondary Metabolites (Jennifer L. Donovan, Claudine Manach, Richard M. Faulks and Paul A. Kroon).

8.1 Introduction.

8.2 Flavonoids.

8.3 Hydroxycinnamic acids.

8.4 Gallic acid and ellagic acid.

8.5 Dihydrochalcones.

8.6 Betalains.

8.7 Glucosinolates.

8.8 Carotenoids.

8.9 Conclusions.


"This book provides an excellent in-depth overview of the major plant secondary metabolities which have been inverstigated for health effects in recent years ... I believe this book will be of interest to a wide array of readers, including plant biologists, nutritional biochemists, public health scientists and medical doctors, who need an overview of natural products and the pathways of their formation." (The Biochemist, 1 February 2012)

"I'd strongly recommend this book for a variety of scientists. Not only is it up to date, but it is also very readable. The topics are related to the real world of food science in an effective way. Most scientists (including graduate students) in areas of study related to chemistry, biology and food science will find the book of value and a good investment." Chemistry World

"The information in the book is recent and easy to locate…would serve well as a textbook for graduate students…as well as a good reference source.” Inform

"Of great value for botanists looking for basic information about plant chemical compounds." Folia Geobotanica

* Detailed coverage of secondary metabolite biosynthesis, incorporating the latest research results to give the reader the most up to date review of this topic

* First book to consider the nutritional and health aspects of secondary metabolites

* Illustrates the impact gene technology can have on these important substances – from increasing the amount of antioxidants in tomatoes to growing coffee without caffeine.