Readership: Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, aspirin, heroine, anti-oxidants, flavours, pigments and penicillin are just a few obvious examples of NPs, almost all being made by plants or micro-organisms. This book tells their fascinating story with an impressive integration of much widely dispersed information. The approach challenges conventions and cuts across traditional boundaries whilst adopting the old-fashioned virtues of rational argument and historical analysis. There is an overarching consideration of Darwinian evolution and also of the evolution of ideas. Richard Firn's book is thus something of a page-turner and one a
latter day Sherlock Holmes might conceivably have written. |s Annals of Botany |d 2010 students taking related courses in natural product chemistry and biochemistry.
Richard Firn, Department of Biology, University of York. Deceased May 2010.
Richard Firn grew up on a farm near Edinburgh, went 3 miles to university to study agriculture but found chemistry more challenging. Using a scholarship to get to Australia, by chance he began research in plant physiology which he continued in the UK and the USA. In 1973 he joined the Biology Department at the University of York and by a series of chance events he was joined by his first graduate student, Clive Jones, who enjoyed speculating about the evolutionary significance of the many diverse chemicals in plants. Not only did Clive help Richard in the laboratory, he was even called upon to help Richard build the timber house
in which he still lives. Some years later, while Richard was really trying to understand how plants sense and respond to gravity and light, Clive and Richard met up again and came up with the radical idea on which this book is based. Richard Firn died in May 2010.
"Thanks to a liberal supply of historical notes, personal and often sharply critical opinions and an enlivening ability to broaden the context, Richard Firn's book is thus something of a page-turner and one a latter day Sherlock Holmes might conceivably have written." - Annals of Botany
1: What are Natural Products?
2: The Importance of NPs in Human Affairs
3: The Main Classes of NPs - Only a Few Pathways Lead to the Majority of NPs
4: Are NPs Different from Synthetic Chemicals?
5: Why Do Organisms Make NPs?
6: NPs, Chemicals and the Environment
7: Natural Products and the Pharmaceutical Industry
8: The Chemical Interactions Between Organisms
9: The Evolution of Metabolism
10: The Genetic Modification of NP Pathways - Possible Opportunities and Possible Pitfalls