What Is Organic Chemistry?
Organic Molecules: Carbs, Proteins, Lipids & Nucleic Acids
Organic molecules are the chemicals of life, compounds composed of more than one type of element, that are found in, and produced by, living organisms.
Article Summary: What substances are within the realm of organic chemistry? This article covers the main categories of naturally occurring organic macromolecules: carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids and lipids.
Carbohydrates, Proteins, Lipids & Nucleic Acids
disaccharide made of glucose and galactose.
The feature that distinguishes an organic from inorganic molecule is that organic molecules contain carbon-hydrogen bonds, whereas inorganic molecules do not. The four major classes of organic molecules include carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and nucleic acids.
The term carbohydrate is actually a descriptor of what these molecules are composed of; carbon hydrates, in a ratio of one carbon molecule to one water molecule (CH2O)n. The word saccharide is a handy synonym for carbohydrate, because it can be preceded with a prefix indicating the size of the molecule (mono-, di-, poly-):
- Monosaccharides: The simplest, single sugars. Examples: Glucose and fructose are monosaccharides.
- Disaccharides: Double sugars that are a combination of two monosaccharides. Example: Sucrose (table sugar) is made of glucose and fructose together.
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- Polysaccharides: These are polymers composed of several sugars. They can be one type of monomer (many of same monosaccharide) or mixture of monomers. Example: Starch is a polysaccharide composed of many glucose molecules.
Amylose, a linear polymer of glucose can be made of thousands of glucose units. Amylose and amylopectin are the two components of starch.