Conclusions

For quinolizidine alkaloids, we have identified the major molecular targets and the likely mode of action. These findings can explain the toxic and pharmacological effects of QA in insects, vertebrates and other organisms. The experimental data provide a solid base to infer the function of QA as defense compounds against herbivores, microorganisms and competing plants. Field data with alkaloid-rich and alkaloid-free lupins clearly show that our conclusions appear to be correct (Fig. 9.5). Using this information we can extrapolate, to a certain degree, the evolution and function of other groups of SM, even if particular experimental data are missing. However, it should be the aim of science to unravel the intricate evolution and interactions of all groups of secondary metabolites. Although this demands a tremendous amount of work, such an effort is worthwhile.

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