Plants as chemists

If I asked you to picture a chemist, you would probably imagine someone closed in a laboratory, handling dangerous chemicals…or maybe you are right now picturing Walter White. Well, what if I tell you that the plant sitting there on your balcony or out in the garden is a much better chemist?
Let’s make a step back: any living organism is continually producing and modifying chemicals, but plants are exceptional at doing it. They are so good that for ages now we have been using organic small molecules deriving from plants as drugs (and not only). Even before knowing that they produce these chemicals, our ancestors have been using plants in the so-called folk medicine. We will discover in future posts in how many ways humankind has used and can exploit the ability of plants to synthetize a vast range of molecules.
The question now is why plants produce so many organic molecules, known as natural products/phytochemicals/specialized (or secondary) metabolites. Well, for sure not because they want to alleviate our pain (e.g. with salicylic acid) or treat cancer (e.g. with paclitaxel); they produce them because they need them! Plants use these chemicals for different reasons, mainly to interact with the environment and with other organisms.
If you are interested in plant natural product chemistry or just curious about the topic, follow this blog. You will get news from the field (and related research fields) and you will learn about interesting molecules and plants.
Stay tuned!

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