Wednesday, August 25, 2021


Biology Index

Where are we going with this? The information on this page should increase understanding related to this standard:  Evaluate comparative models of various cell types with a focus on organic molecules that make up cellular structures.

Article includes ideas, images, and content from Troy Smigielski (2021-08)

(Sounds like this is the beginning of something big… or, actually small!)

Carbohydrates are one of the four types of biomolecules.

Carbohydrates function to provide immediate energy and regulate blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates include sugars, starches, and fiber. They are essential food nutrients that your body turns into glucose to give you the energy to function. (More! 2021-08-27)

As a biomolecule, carbohydrates (like lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids) are made up of monomers. The monomer from which carbohydrates are built is a monosaccharide

"Monomer" is the name for the building blocks out of which biomolecules are formed. That means that carbohydrates are built out of monosaccharides.

Naturally, understanding what a monosaccharide is seems to come next! 

There are 5 monosaccharides in the carbohydrate above.

Monosaccharide: any of the basic (class) sugars which can be identified by the ratio of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen present. 

So… sugars… made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. 

Seems like there could be a lot more! 

Examples of monosaccharides include glucose (dextrose), fructose (levulose), and galactose. Monosaccharides are the building blocks of disaccharides (such as sucrose and lactose) and polysaccharides (such as cellulose and starch).  (2021-08-25, SOURCE)

Seems like that is way too much!

Monosaccharides can be easily identified by their chemical makeup. They are built out of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen in a specific ratio. And what is that ratio?


What that means is that for every 1 Carbon, there will be 2 Hydrogen and 1 Oxygen.


A monosaccharide always has a 1:2:1 ratio of C:H:O

In larger carbohydrates, the ratio do not match this. However, the 2:1 ratio of C:H usually holds true (hydrogen and oxygen). The C ratio will alter. (More)

And… So what?

So… since monosaccharide is the monomer for many different sugars, chemists and biologist can say things like… 

"Well, glucose is a monosaccharide. It's different from maltose, which is a disaccharide."

The illustrations above use a format wherein the points of the hexagon that are NOT otherwise labeled represent a C-H (carbon and hydrogen connected). Compare the glucose in this diagram with the one above)

That glucose is a mono… thing and maltose is a di… thing means that they are similar, differing in the number of things (saccharides) present.

ANALOGY: Think of a saccharide as one Lego® block. You can make a lot of different things depending on how you combine the blocks. You could build a house or a castle or a… Well, you know Lego®

In the same way, different combinations of saccharides (or any other monomer, for that matter) results in different things. (For instance, on saccharide (monosaccharide) is a sugar, glucose.)

Within the paradigm of monomers (saccharides for carbohydrates) carbohydrates can be broken down into three groups:
  • Monosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
  • Polysaccharides

Monosaccharides and disaccharides are sugars.

Sugars often end in -ose. For instance, glucose, maltose, fructose…

If you look close, you'll see that the monosaccharides all have the same formula (as to the disaccharides and polysaccharides. These are examples of isomers: compounds having the same chemical formulas, but in which the atoms are arranged differently.

Polysaccharides are starches.

Aside from fibre, carbohydrates are pretty much just sugars and starches.

Monosaccharides are made up of one sugar (the monomer saccharide) and are typically ring-shaped in structure. The most common monosaccharide is glucose.

Disaccharides are made up of two sugars and are created when two monomers are joined together.

Polysaccharides are made up of 3 or more sugars and are joined together through a dehydration synthesis reaction.

Starch: energy storage in plants.
Glycogen: energy storage in animals
Cellulose: major component in plant cell walls.
Chitin: support and protection (insects and fungus)

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