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Department of Pharmacognosy Prof.

Nahla Ayoub Lecture (4)

Botany and Medicinal Plants

cell CONTENT Natural Metabolites

Spring Semester 2013

Types of Natural Metabolites:

A) Primary metabolites: Carbohydrates. Amino acids (Protein). Fats. Function: Participate in cellular activities & used as precursor for the biosynthesis of 2 metabolites. Distribution: Distributed universally throughout the plant kingdom.

B)Secondary metabolites: Represent the majority of natural products e.g., alkaloids, glycosides, tannins, volatile oils, steroids ... etc. Have a restricted distribution (perhaps only found in certain species, genus & family ... etc.). Function: Are not clear, may or may not be essential.

The cell contents

I-Primary Plant Metabolites A-Carbohydrates (Starch) B- Proteins C- Fixed oil & fats

II- Products of Metabolism II- Gums, i-Crystals

IV- Tannins VI- Alkaloids
VII- Glycosides

Mucilages & pectins III- Resins & Resin Combination V- Volatile oils
VIII- Antibiotics X- Vitamins XI-Hormones

IX- Aflatoxins XII- Enzymes

A- Starch

Food storage products Primary Plant METABOLITES

As granules in all storage organs e.g. roots rhizomes and seeds. The major sources of starch intake worldwide are the cereals (rice, wheat, and maize) and the root vegetables (potatoes) Starch is a polysaccharides of high molecular weight ( polymer of Alpha-glucose and formed during photosynthesis) . Detection It gives blue color with iodine.

Uses of starch
Adjuncts in tablet formulation: diluents, binder, desintegrants, anti-caking agents Food technology, paper production, textile industry, glues, adhesives . Dusting powder for cosmetic preparation. As lubricant and in treatment of iodine poisoning. As indicator for the iodine titration. Drugs derived from starch.
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Potato starch grains (viewed under high power)

Maize starch grains (viewed under high power)

Rice Starch grains

B- Proteins
As aleurone grains (storage and source of proteins ) in seeds. It is composed of a large number of amino acids united by peptide linkage. They are complex nitrogenous organic substances of high molecular weight. It composed from Matrix, globoids and crystalloid Detection It gives red color with Millons reagent.

Aleurone grains: composed from Matrix, globoids and crystalloid


Endosperm (Starchy) Aleurone Pericarp

Oil drops

The aleurone layer of the seed lies between the outer pericarp and the inner starchy endosperm.

Aleurone grains

C- Fixed oil and fats

Found in seeds Reserve fats occur as crystalline masses or oil drops (endosperm )
Detection Sudan III red color

They are used pharmaceutically in Soaps, liniment and plaster. Stimulant cathartic (castor seed oil). Solvent for IM. Injection (in steroidal drugs). e.g. peanut, cotton seed, sesame and corn oils. In treatment of hypercholesteremia e.g. olive oil.

By-Products of Metabolism I-Crystals

Crystals may be reserve or waste products of cellular activity. Calcium salt in the soil + oxalic acid (metabolism of carbohydrate)

1- Prisms

2- Rosette and cluster

Cluster: Numerous prisms or pyramids or both grown together e.g. to form spherical Hyoscyamus masses with projecting point Rosette : Crystals having a large center from which crystal radiate, appear to have a toothed circumference. e.g. in aleurone grains of Umbelleferae.
e. Rhubab rhizome

( long prism) Quillaia bark

3- Needles (acicular)
commonly occur in bundles (raphides) e.g. Squill

4--Microcrystal or sandy crystal

Very small, e.g. in belladonna leaf (microsphenoidal) and cinchona bark (microprismatic).


1- Prisms


4-Needles (acicular)

5-Microcrystal or sandy crystal


Special arrangement of Ca Ox

Crystal sheath [Senna , Cascar a ]

Crystal layer (Str amonium )

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calcium oxalate Crystals


e.g. Hyoscyamus

e.g. Squill


e.g. Rhubarb

in aleurone grains of Umbelleferae.

e.g. Quillaia

e.g. Senna

e.g. Squill e.g. Stramonium

e.g. Belladonna

Rosette in aleurone grains of Umbelleferae.

Atropa belladonna vein islet


Datura stramonium vein islet

Crystal layer


B- Calcium carbonate:

Cystolith hair of Cannabis sativa Identified by effervescence with dil. HCl. Skeleton of diatoms (kieselguhr). Sclerenchymatous layer of cardamom seed.

C- Silica:

Calcium carbonate deposit

Antibiotics Compounds synthesized by certain molds and fungi

Having bacteriostatic activity.

e.g. Penicillin and tetracycline.

Aflatoxins Mycotoxins developed by mouldy grains Cause serious reaction They are potent carcinogen, and mutagen. e.g. Aflatoxin B1, G1 developed by Asper gillus.

Vitamins - Organic compound necessary to the normal growth and maintenance of life in animals including human. - Isolated from plant or animal purified and concentrated for use as drugs e.g. (Ascorbic acid)



Active hormones secreted by the endocrine glands. They control the growth, development and metabolism in various ways. e.g . Auxins, Cytokinins.

Organic bio-catalysts produced by living cells. They make most of the chemical reactions which make up life processes e.g. Amylase, Protease, Lipase