Ecological biochemistry refers to the interaction of organisms with their abiotic environment and other organisms by chemical means. Biotic and abiotic factors determine the biochemical flexibility of organisms, which otherwise easily adapt to environmental changes by altering their metabolism. Sessile plants, in particular, have evolved intricate biochemical response mechanisms to fit into a changing environment. This book covers the chemistry behind these interactions, bottom up from the atomic to the system's level.
An introductory part explains the physico-chemical basis and biochemical roots of living cells, leading to secondary metabolites as crucial bridges between organisms and the respective ecosystem. The focus then shifts to the biochemical interactions of plants, fungi and bacteria within terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems with the aim of linking biochemical insights to ecological research, also in human-influenced habitats.
A section is devoted to methodology, which allows network-based analyses of molecular processes underlying systems phenomena.
A companion website offering an extended version of the introductory chapter on Basic Biochemical Roots is available at
It is divided into four parts: Part 1: Genes and Cells, looks at the origins of plants, cell structure, biochemical processes and genes and development. Part 2: The Functioning Plant, describes the structure and function of roots, stems, leaves, flowers and seed and fruit development. Part 3: Interactions and Adaptations, examines environmental and biotic stresses and how plants adapt and acclimatise to these conditions. Part 4: Future Directions, illustrates the great importance of plant research by looking at some well chosen, topical examples such as GM crops, biomass and bio-fuels, loss of plant biodiversity and the question of how to feed the planet.
Throughout the book there are text boxes to illustrate particular aspects of how humans make use of plants, and a comprehensive glossary proves invaluable to those coming to the subject from other areas of life science.