A biological macromolecule is defined as a large molecule made up of smaller organic molecules, known as monomers. There are four classes of biological macromolecules, one of them being carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are made of three base elements; Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen in a 1:2:1 ration. There are three different classes of carbohydrates; monosaccharides, disaccharides, and oligosaccharides. These three saccharides will be further looked into in terms of structure, bonds, and uses, along with the differences between the three.
Monosaccharides, otherwise known as simple sugars, can be differentiated from di- and oligosaccharides because of its one ringed structure. A monosaccharide is made up of a carbon backbone, with many hydroxyl groups (OH) attached to it. Depending on the number of carbons, a monosaccharide can be a trios (3 carbons), tetros (4), pentose (5), hexose (6), etc. It is monosaccharides that are covalently bonded together to make both disaccharides and oligosaccharides, making them the original structure for carbohydrates. Examples of monosaccharides include glucose, fructose, and galactose. These monosaccharides are most commonly seen in fruits, vegetables, honey, and dairy products.
Disaccharides are sugars that are made up of two monosacchardes that are covalently bonded together. Examples and uses of disaccharides include lactose (milk sugar), maltose (involved with starch), cellobiose (product of cellulose), maltose (beer), and the most important disaccharide, sucrose. Sucrose is found most commonly is photosynthetic plants, where it is an easily transported energy source. Sucrose is also found in sugar cane and beet sugars.
The most complicated carbohydrates are oligosaccharides, otherwise known as polysaccharides. These are carbohydrates that are composed of numerous covalently bonded monosaccharides. All common polysaccharides contain glucose as the main monosaccharide unit. The two polysaccharides that are most commonly known are starch and cellulose. Starch is a storage polysaccharide found in plants and is made of amylose and amylopectin. Cellulose is a major component in the cell wall of a plant, and consists of long linear chains of glucose.
Carbohydrates are the building blocks to both simple and complex sugars that we use in our everyday lives. Without carbohydrates, the majority of the food that we eat would not exist. Biological macromolecules, including carbohydrates, are components essential to the world; components that will continue to be studied and investigated to find further uses for them.
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Council-Garcia, C. L. (2002). Biological Macromolecules . Retrieved March 30, 2010, from UNM Biology Undergraduate Labs: http://biology.unm.edu/ccouncil/Biology_124/Summaries/Macromol.html
Diwan, J. (n.d.). Sugars & Polysaccharides. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) :: Architecture, Business, Engineering, IT, Humanities, Science. Retrieved March 30, 2010, from http://www.rpi.edu /de pt/bcbp/molbiochem/MBWeb/mb1/part2/sugar.htm
Ophardt, C. (n.d.). Carbohydrates – Starch. Elmhurst College: Elmhurst, Illinois. Retrieved March 30, 2010, from http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/547starch.html
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