Amaryllidaceae alkaloids (AAs), which are natural heterocyclic compounds, are isolated
from Amaryllidaceae plants such as narcissus, snowdrop and spider lily. AAs have been extensively
studied due to their multiple pharmacological properties. Nevertheless, knowledge of AA synthesis in
plants is lacking and most genes encoding enzymes involved in their production remain unknown.
AAs are structurally complex compounds which are challenging for total chemical synthesis that is
economically viable. Therefore the understanding of AA biosynthesis could allow for the development
of biotechnologies for the production of natural AAs or analogues, maintaining or improving their
pharmacological properties. In this review, we describe the progress regarding the biosynthesis and
pharmacological properties of AAs. The most recent developments in neurological, anti-cancer and
anti-microbial bioactivities of heterocyclic AAs are covered.