Botany online 1996-2004. No further update, only historical document of botanical science!

Plant Amines

Plant amines are derivatives of ammonia. Their collective structures are:

primary amines: NH2R
secondary amines: NHRR'
tertiary amines: NRR'R''
quaternary amines: N+RR'R''R'''(OH-)

A wide range of plant amines can be found in the most different plant cells. They are usually generated by the decarboxylation of amino acids or by transamination of aldehydes. The distinction between plant amines and alkaloids is sometimes a little arbitrary. Some, like mescaline, are counted among the alkaloids although in a chemical sense they are amines.

Aliphatic amines are often produced during anthesis, i.e. the opening of a flower or the formation of the fruiting body of certain fungi (like the stinkhorn, for example). They are insect-attractants. A good example of insect attractants are the aliphatic-aromatic amines in Araceae (lords-and-ladies, arum and others).

Among the di- and polyamines are putrescine (NH2(CH2)4NH2), as well as spermidine (NH2(CH2)3NH(CH2)4NH2) and spermine (NH2(CH2)3NH(CH2)4NH(CH2)3NH2). They occur in nearly all eucaryotic cells and interact with the DNA double helix. Among the tryptamines (tryptophane derivatives) are the phytohormone indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) as well as serotonin.

© Peter v. Sengbusch - Impressum