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Carbonisthemostimportantelementtolivingthingsbecauseitcan

formmanydifferentkindsofbondsandformessentialcompounds.

LEARNINGOBJECTIVES [edit]

Explainthepropertiesofcarbonthatallowittoserveasabuildingblockforbiomolecules

Explainwhycarbonisimportantforlife

DescribethevariousplacescarbonisstoredonEarth

KEYPOINTS [edit]

Alllivingthingscontaincarboninsomeform.

Carbonistheprimarycomponentofmacromolecules,includingproteins,lipids,nucleicacids,
andcarbohydrates.

Carbon'smolecularstructureallowsittobondinmanydifferentwaysandwithmany
differentelements.

Thecarboncycleshowshowcarbonmovesthroughthelivingandnonlivingpartsofthe
environment.

TERMS [edit]

octetrule
Arulestatingthatatomslose,gain,orshareelectronsinordertohaveafullvalenceshellof8
electrons(hassomeexceptions).

macromolecule
averylargemolecule,especiallyusedinreferencetolargebiologicalpolymers(e.g.,nucleicacids
andproteins)

carboncycle
thephysicalcycleofcarbonthroughtheearth'sbiosphere,geosphere,hydrosphere,and
atmosphereincludessuchprocessesasphotosynthesis,decomposition,respirationand
carbonification

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FULLTEXT [edit]

Carbonisthefourthmost
abundantelementintheuniverseandis

thebuildingblockoflifeonearth.On
earth,carboncirculatesthroughtheland,
ocean,andatmosphere,creatingwhatis

knownastheCarbonCycle.Thisglobal
carboncyclecanbedividedfurtherinto

twoseparatecycles:thegeologicalcarbon
cyclestakesplaceovermillionsofyears,
whereasthebiologicalorphysicalcarbon RegisterforFREEtostopseeingads

cycletakesplacefromdaystothousandsofyears.Inanonlivingenvironment,carboncan

existascarbondioxide(CO2),carbonaterocks,coal,petroleum,naturalgas,and
deadorganicmatter.Plantsandalgaeconvertcarbondioxidetoorganicmatterthroughthe
processofphotosynthesis,theenergyoflight.

Carbonispresentinalllife
Alllivingthingscontaincarboninsomeform,andcarbonistheprimarycomponentofmacromolecules,
includingproteins,lipids,nucleicacids,andcarbohydrates.Carbonexistsinmanyformsinthisleaf,
includinginthecellulosetoformtheleaf'sstructureandinchlorophyll,thepigmentwhichmakestheleaf
green.

CarbonisImportanttoLife

Initsmetabolismoffoodandrespiration,ananimalconsumesglucose(C6H12O6),which
combineswithoxygen(O2)toproducecarbondioxide(CO2),water(H2O),andenergy,
whichisgivenoffasheat.Theanimalhasnoneedforthecarbondioxideandreleasesitinto

theatmosphere.Aplant,ontheotherhand,usestheoppositereactionofananimalthrough
photosynthesis.Itintakescarbondioxide,water,andenergyfromsunlighttomakeitsown
glucoseandoxygengas.Theglucoseisusedforchemicalenergy,whichtheplantmetabolizes

inasimilarwaytoananimal.Theplantthenemitstheremainingoxygenintothe
environment.

Cellsaremadeofmanycomplexmoleculescalledmacromolecules,whichincludeproteins,

nucleicacids(RNAandDNA),carbohydrates,andlipids.Themacromoleculesareasubsetof
organicmolecules(anycarboncontainingliquid,solid,orgas)thatareespeciallyimportant
forlife.Thefundamentalcomponentforallofthesemacromoleculesiscarbon.Thecarbon
atomhasuniquepropertiesthatallowittoformcovalentbondstoasmanyasfourdifferent
atoms,makingthisversatileelementidealtoserveasthebasicstructuralcomponent,or

"backbone,"ofthemacromolecules.

StructureofCarbon

Individualcarbonatomshaveanincompleteoutermostelectronshell.Withanatomic
numberof6(sixelectronsandsixprotons),thefirsttwoelectronsfilltheinnershell,leaving
fourinthesecondshell.Therefore,carbonatomscanformuptofourcovalentbondswith
otheratomstosatisfytheoctetrule.Themethanemoleculeprovidesanexample:ithasthe
chemicalformulaCH4.Eachofitsfourhydrogenatomsformsasinglecovalentbondwith

thecarbonatombysharingapairofelectrons.Thisresultsinafilledoutermostshell.
StructureofMethane

Methanehasatetrahedralgeometry,witheachofthefourhydrogenatomsspaced109.5apart.