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Biology HL

3.2

Carbohydrates, Lipids and Proteins

Organic compounds are all compounds that contain carbon that are found in living organisms
except:
Carbonates
Hydrogencarbonates
Oxides of carbon
Structure
Lipids: lipids are made up of fatty acids (Fig. 1). Fatty acids are essentially
a hydrocarbon chain with a carboxyl (COOH) group at the end of the
chain, e.g.:
CH3(CH2)10COOH is lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid
Fig. 1: A fatty acid
CH3(CH2)5CH=CH(CH2)7COOH is hexadecanoic acid, a
monounsaturated fatty acid.
The chains may often look like zig-zags, and C=C double bonds provide kinks in the chain.
Fatty acids act as an energy source in most cells. Saturated fats contain more energy than
unsaturated fats because there is more hydrogen, therefore there is more reduction of NAD/
FAD during respiration.

Glycerol

Triglycerides (Fig. 2) are three fatty acids arranged in parallel


with a glycerol molecule attached to the fatty acids at the end
by an ester bond. Triglycerides are how fatty acids are
transported and stored in the body (in adipose tissue). In
general, animal triglycerides tend to have larger fatty acids,
and are likely to have more saturated fats than plant lipids.

Choline (polar)
Phospholipids (Fig.
3) are two fatty acids
arranged in parallel
with an organic alcohol and a phosphate group attached
to a glycerol molecule at the end. The fatty acid chain is
hydrophobic (will not interact with water), but the head
is polar so is hydrophilic and will interact with water.
Phosphate
This means that whereas the tail will orientate itself
away from any aqueous medium, the head will orientate Fig. 3: A phospholipid
themselves towards any aqueous medium. This means
that phospholipids can form a spontaneous bilayer, where the hydrophilic heads face outwards
and the hydrophobic tails remain in the inner layer. Phospholipids are therefore an essential
component in cell and organelle membranes where this dual personality means that some
non-polar substances can be transported directly into a cell through the lipid bilayer.

Fig. 2: A triglyceride molecule

In general, lipids are non-polar molecules


that are less dense than water, so can
provide buoyancy. As most lipids are
insoluble in water, they have no osmotic
effect (i.e. they cannot diffuse away), and

Fig. 4: Spontaneous bilayer


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Biology HL
3.2

Carbohydrates, Lipids and Proteins


due to their compactness are good storage molecules. They conduct heat poorly so are good
for insulation, e.g. subcutaneous fat. As they are hydrophobic, lipids are also good for
waterproofing surfaces, e.g. waxy cuticles on plant leaves.

!
H!

!
!

H
N
H

Fig. 5: The amino acid template

!
!
!
!

!
!
!
!
OH
!
!
!
!
!
!

OH

Amino acids: Amino acids can be easily


identified by their universal characteristic
groups (Fig. 5): all amino acids consist of
a central carbon atom, with an amine
group (NH2), a carboxyl group (COOH)
and a hydrogen atom around the central
carbon atom as well. The other possible
carbon bond is a variable R group that
determines the amino acid, e.g. alanine
has a CH3 group as its R group.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates can be
identified by their molecular formulae, e.g.
ribose: C5H10O5 and glucose: C6H12O6.
However, not all diagrams of ribose and
glucose display their molecular formulae as
obviously as Fig. 6 and Fig. 7.

H
C

C
OH

OH

OH
H

OH
H

Fig. 6: The fully labelled structure


of glucose

OH

H
C

C
H

OH

OH

Fig. 7: The fully labelled structure of ribose


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OH

Biology HL
3.2

Carbohydrates, Lipids and Proteins


There are a number of rules that define how a molecule is
displayed:
At every point in a ring is a carbon atom, unless another atom is
specified.
Every bond is a single bond, unless a double or triple bond is
specified.
All valencies are satisfied by adding hydrogen atoms unless
another atom or group is specified.
Take a relatively simple structure such as Fig. 8. It shows the least
possible labelled structure of cyclohexane, C6H12.

Fig. 8: The unlabelled


structure of cyclohexane

!
Using rule 1, we get to Fig. 9. Using rule 3, we get to Fig. 10. While Fig. 10 is useful in
showing us all of the atoms in cyclohexane, Fig. 8 is substantially easier to draw and, to
somebody who knows the rules, conveys just as much information.

H
C

H
C
C

H
C

H
C

H
C

C
H

C
Fig. 9: The structure of
cyclohexane using the first
rule of structures

Fig. 10: The structure of cyclohexane


using the first and second rules of
structures

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Biology HL
3.2

Carbohydrates, Lipids and Proteins


In the context of carbohydrates, glucose and ribose can also be represented in a simpler
fashion than Fig. 6 and Fig. 7, as shown by Fig. 11, Fig. 12, Fig. 13 and Fig. 14.
H

CH2OH

OH

O
H

H
H
H

OH

OH

OH
OH
OH

OH

OH

OH

Fig. 12: Glucose structure


using the first and third rules
of structures

Fig. 11: Glucose structure using the


first rule of structures

H
H

O
CH2OH

OH

OH

OH
OH

OH

OH

Fig. 13: Ribose structure using the


first rule of structures

OH

Fig. 14: Ribose structure using the


first and third rules of structures

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Biology HL
3.2

Carbohydrates, Lipids and Proteins


Functions of molecules
Carbohydrates
Examples of carbohydrates include:
Monosaccharides:! !
Disaccharides:!
!
Polysaccharides:! !

Fructose, Galactose, Glucose


Lactose, Maltose, Sucrose
Cellulose, Glycogen, Starch

Importance of carbohydrates in animals


Name
Glucose

Lactose

Glycogen

Type
Monosaccharide

Function
Glucose is the chemical fuel for cell
respiration.

Disaccharide

Lactose is used as an energy source,


especially for young mammals, and is found in
milk.

Polysaccharide

The form in which glucose is stored in liver and


muscle cells.

Importance of carbohydrates in plants


Name

Type

Fructose

Monosaccharide

Sucrose

Disaccharide

Cellulose

Polysaccharide

Function
Found in many fruits and makes them sweet.
Sucrose is how sugars are transported in
plants.
One of the primary component of plant cell
walls.

Lipids
Lipids are very efficient molecules for storing energy. They are important for thermal insulation,
and phospholipids make up the membranes of all cells in the form of a spontaneous bilayer.

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Biology HL
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Carbohydrates, Lipids and Proteins


Formation of molecules
Hydrolysis
Hydrolysis literally means using water to split. For example, larger molecules (such as starch)
are hydrolysed to form smaller molecules:
!

starch + water

(many) maltose

lactose + water

glucose + galactose

sucrose + water

glucose + fructose

maltose + water

(2) glucose

triglyceride + (3) water

glycerol + 3 fatty acids

protein + (many) water

(many) amino acids

Condensation is essentially the opposite of hydrolysis: water is expelled in the formation of


larger molecules from smaller molecules.
!

(many) maltose

starch + water

glucose + galactose

glucose + fructose

(2) glucose

glycerol + 3 fatty acids

(many) amino acids

lactose + water
sucrose + water

maltose + water
triglyceride + (3) water
protein + (many) water

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Biology HL
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Carbohydrates, Lipids and Proteins


1.

OH

OH

OH

OH

OH

OH

OH

Expelled during condensation


polymerisation reaction

OH

OH

OH

H
H

H
OH

OH

OH

2.

OH

OH

OH

OH

OH

Glycosidic bond

O
H
Fig. 15: Structural diagram showing the
formation of a molecule of maltose from
two glucose molecules

Water expelled

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Biology HL
3.2

Carbohydrates, Lipids and Proteins

Comparison of carbohydrates and lipids in energy storage

Lipids yield twice as much energy per gram in respiration than carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are more soluble in water and are therefore easier to transport. They
therefore also have a stronger impact on osmotic balance.
If fat breakdown predominates in the body, ketone bodies can be formed which can have a
deleterious effect on acids1.
Carbohydrates are used initially for short-term energy release. Lipids are normally used for
long-term energy storage.
Lipids are used increasingly as the length of exercise increases.
When an animal is starved, it is likely to use stores of glycogen before it uses lipid stores.

Plants have additional enzymes which prevent this problem.


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