LESSON 1: INTRODUCTION TO BIOENERGETICS

UNIT I PRINCIPLES OF BIOENERGETICS

What is Bioenergetics? It is the study of the processes by which living cells use, store and release energy. It is a broad subject which covers a wide range of systems. Students,in this subject you will learn to appreciate various mechanisms through which organisms manage their energy resources.

Review Questions
I will ask some fundamental questions which will trigger the thought process and“ bio-logical reasoning” necessary to comprehend this subject—

BIOENERGETICS

Q1 What are the Capacities of Living Organisms ? 1. Evolution 2. Self-replication 3. Growth and differentiation via a genetic program 4. Metabolism 5. Self-regulation 6. Response to stimuli from the environment 7. Change in phenotype and genotype Q2 What are the Properties of “Autonomous Agents”? Must be a self-reproducing molecular system Must be able to carry out one or more thermodynamic work cycles If we want to give a bioenergetic representation of life, it would be as follows: Living cells possess and maintain chemical gradients across their cell membranes. The chemical gradients include: • Protons • Sodium • Potassium • Calcium • Chlorine The proton gradient can be derived from various sources, although mainly as either a photon flux or a chemical potential. A chemical potential is only available to an organism if it can catalyse a reaction that results in a proton gradient. Chemical gradients can be produced by thermal gradients Here it is relevant to bring into light an important scientific landmark, which is the Chemiosmotic Theory : Chemiosmotic theory is the theory of proton electrochemical coupling. That a proton gradient is established across a membrane by the action of a primary proton pump. And that this proton gradient drives ATP synthesis through a secondary proton pump (ATP synthase or proton-translocating ATPase). It is interesting that this secondary pump is highly conserved in bacteria, mitocondria and chloroplasm membranes. Chemiosmotic coupling was proposed by Peter Mitchell in the late 1960’s and he later received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work Physicists define energy as the ability to do work. We all have sense of what work is, but again it may be hard to put into a

Definition of Life
We can precisely and concisely define this term “Life” by coining this abbreviated word M.E.R.R.I.N.G. : Movement - Animals and single cell. (plants ??) Excretion Reproduction Respiration Irritability Nutrition - (Including photosynthesis) Growth Any system exhibiting these characteristics possesses life in it Example - Beech Tree MERRING Movement. Phototaxis? Seed? Excretion. (Photosynthesis - Oxygen) (Respiration - CO2 and Water) (Nutrition - Nitrates, etc heartwood, leaf fall) Reproduction. Both sexes on each plant. both male and female flowers. Seed - beech mast. ) Respiration. Self-production of sugars. Sugar and oxygen water and CO2) Irritability. ? Nutrition - (photosynthesis) (intake of water and nutrients through root system. symbiotic root fungi?) Growth. Annual
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but rather a very precise set of molecules and ions that must be maintained in a highly structured and ordered state. The forms of energy that can be usefully harvested by cells are chemical bond energy. Deoxyribonucleotides do not synthesize themselves from carbon. It is the loss of free energy in the form of heat that provides direction to reaction sequences. Maintenance of molecules and the structures built from molecules is work and therefore requires an input of energy. The loss of free energy as heat represents an increase in entropy. in addition to heat. It all is the product of work. In biology. BIOENERGETICS Note © Copy Right: Rai University 2. are mechanical (kinetic). nitrogen. Temperature gradients are potentially destructive to organisms.precise set of words. growing and reproducing is even more work. heat. Energy harvesting in biology is different. the reaction is made irreversible and this is important in keeping cells alive. membranes. nevertheless. significant in biological energy production. is a good example of this definition. once evolved. Cells don’t have just any combination of deoxyribonucleotides floating around in their cytoplasm. Having synthesized complex molecules and structures such as ribosomes. Time leads to the decay of order into disorder. higher eukaryotes. Cells. Heat is. None of this occurs spontaneously. specific molecule of DNA. and then polymerize themselves into a precise. Transmembrane concentration gradients (mD) are a storage form of biological energy and a common intermediate step in the energy harvesting processes. In biology disorder means death. Entropy is often defined as a measure of randomness. hydrogen. is not a random collection of molecules and ions. cannot be recaptured by cells. are distinctly nonrandom and staying alive can be viewed as a constant battle against the development of randomness. Therefore. and enzyme stability. Cells and organisms are isothermal: they exist and function at a uniform temperature and there is no biological mechanism available to harvest energy by moving heat down a temperature gradient. electron orbital 2 energy and light. when alive. Entropy is background energy. and electromagnetic waves outside the limited region of the visible and near infrared spectrum. and the like. to the contrary.204 . such as birds and mammals have evolved sophisticated methods to eliminate internal temperature fluctuations. These steps are actively performed by the preexisting cell using the information of its preexisting DNA and the enzymatic tools coded for by that DNA. The fraction of energy that cannot be harvested and cannot be used to do work is called Entropy (DS). the random kinetic energy of molecules and ions. Although energy can neither be created nor destroyed it can be moved from one place to another and converted from one form to another. The major effects of temperature variations on prokaryotes are due to the effects of temperature on membrane fluidity. Why is staying alive work? Because an organism. Prokaryotes exist at the temperature of the environments in which they evolved. The same argument applies to every other component of a cell as well as to the entire structure of the cell and organism. staying alive is work. chemical reaction rates. oxygen. sound. every cell has a precise combination of deoxyribonucleotides hooked together in a specific sequence to form the DNA that is unique to that particular organism. cells then have to maintain these structures in proper working condition. in biology it usually takes the form of heat. spontaneously arrange themselves into the proper sequence. however. and phosphorous atoms and then. when a portion of a reaction’s energy change is released as heat. Forms of energy that cannot be harvested. Heat energy. reptiles and amphibians accomplish the same via behavior.

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