Biogenesis of Lysergic Acid in Ergot


SEVERAL schemes have been proposed for the biogenesis of the medicinally valuable lysergic acid moiety of the ergot alkaloids1–5. Recently, it was shown by Taber and Vining6, and later verified by Baxter et al. 7, that tryptophan (β-14C) serves as a precursor for lysergic acid. Gröger and co-workers8 demonstrated that tryptophan (β-14C) is also a precursor for the chemically related clavine alkaloids, which are produced by certain strains of ergot ; but the carboxyl group of tryptophan does not enter the molecule. The nature of the precursor of the remaining portions of lysergic acid and of the clavine alkaloids has remained a puzzle. Gröger2 demonstrated that, when acetate (1-14C) was fed to saprophytic cultures of ergot, the radioactivity was incorporated into the clavine alkaloids. Since the alkaloids were not degraded, the biogenetic significance of this work is not clear.

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TAYLOR, E., RAMSTAD, E. Biogenesis of Lysergic Acid in Ergot. Nature 188, 494–495 (1960).

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