Biologically, anti-nutritional
factors (ANFs) are coping components for plants in order to survive. Plants are
threatened by herbivores, microorganisms and bacteria. According to War, Paulraj,
Ahmad, Buhroo, Hussain, Ignacimuthu and Sharma (2012), Plants protects
themselves from herbivores by two mechanism. Physically, they have a mechanical
protection on their surface such as hairs, trichomes, thorns, spines, and
thicker leaves. On the other hand, plants also produce toxic chemicals which
are able to kill or retard the development of the herbivores. The examples of
these toxinc chemicals are terpenoids, alkaloids, anthocyanins, phenols and
quinones which are also known as anti-nutritional factors (ANFs). Mazid, Khan
and Mohammad (2011) also highlighted that plants produce a high diversity of
natural products or secondary metabolite. In this literature, the functions of
secondary metabolites are reported to be a protection against predators and
microbial pathogens. Besides, these metabolites also help the plants to defense
against abiotic stress such as UV-B exposure and also for their communication with
other organisms. Mazid, Khan and Mohammad (2011) stated that these by-product metabolites
are unimportant for the growth and developmental processes of the plants.

Enneking and Wink (2000) stated that the anti-nutritional
factors (ANFs) play a vital role in which these secondary metabolites help the
plants in coping with the stress. As seedling is the early stage of a plant
growth, it is the weakest period that needs a protective mechanism which can
guarantee the survival of the plant. Thus, anti-nutritional factors which are
generated to do this job can be found in the seed of the plant (Enneking and
Wink, 2000). As stated by Noonan and Savage (1999), calcium oxalate in yam
helps in blocking the growth and biosynthesis of aflatoxin. Another example is in the Tragia ramosa, a species of
flowering plant in the euphorb family. This
plant is covered with stinging hair which consists of an elongated cell that
comprises a large needle-shaped styloid crystals made of calcium oxalate. The
oxalate will help to protect the plant from animal as if the animal comes into
contact with this plant, the tip of the elongated cell ruptures exposing the
needle-shaped crystal which can puncture the dermis of the animal. This is how
the anti-nutritional factor (ANF) acts as a defensive mechanism towards Tragia
ramosa (Nakata, 2015).

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Besides, lignin was also highlighted to be a defense
mechanism for plants as it blocks the leaf physically or increasing the leaf
toughness which results the limitation for the entry of pathogens and also reduces
the possibility of the plants to be eaten by the herbivores. Moreover,
its synthesis has been found to be induced by herbivory or pathogen
attack and its rapid deposition reduce further growth of the pathogen or
herbivore fruitfulness (War et al, 2012). Another example of anti-nutritional
factor (ANF) which helps plants in defense mechanism is Amygdalin. It is a common
cyanogenic glucoside found in the seeds of almonds, apricot, cherries and
peaches. This anti-nutritional factor (ANF) works by releasing the poison
hydrogen cyanide (HCN) as the mechanism against herbivores and any other animal
(Mazid, Khan and Mohammad, 2011).

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