In drying seeds serotonin production is a way to get rid of the buildup of poisonous ammonia. The ammonia is collected and placed in the indole part of L-tryptophan, which is then decarboxylated by tryptophan decarboxylase to give tryptamine, which is then hydroxylated by a cytochrome P450 monooxygenase, yielding serotonin.
Serotonin is found in mushrooms, fruits and vegetables. The highest values of 25–400 mg/kg have been found in nuts of the walnut (''Juglans'') and hickory (''Carya'') genuses. Serotonin concentrations of 3–30 mg/kg have been found in plantain, pineapple, banana, kiwifruit, plums, and tomatoes. Moderate levels from 0.1–3 mg/kg have been found in a wide range of tested vegetables. Serotonin is one compound of the poison contained in stinging nettles (''Urtica dioica''). It should be noted that serotonin, unlike its precursors 5-HTP and tryptophan, does not cross the blood–brain barrier, which means that ingesting serotonin in the diet has no effect on brain serotonin levels.
Several plants contain serotonin together with a family of related tryptamines that are methylated at the amino (NH2) and hydroxy (OH) groups, are ''N''-oxides, or miss the OH group. Examples are plants from the ''Anadenanthera'' genus that are used in the hallucinogenic yopo snuff.
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