There are three
principal kinds of carbohydrates and each are classified according to
the number of sugar molecules they contain. Monosaccharides, such as
ribose, glucose, and fructose, contain only one sugar molecule.
Disaccharides consist of two sugar molecules linked covalently.
Familiar examples are sucrose (table sugar), maltose (malt sugar),
and lactose (milk sugar). Polysaccharides, such as cellulose and
starch, contain many sugar molecules linked together.
are organic compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. They
can be described by the chemical formula (CH3O)n, where n may be as
small as 3 or as large as 8. They are characterized by hydroxyl
groups and an aldehyde or ketone group. These functional groups make
sugars highly soluble in aqueous solution. In solution the aldehyde
or ketone group has a tendency to react with one of the hydroxyl
groups, producing a ring structure. The alpha glucose, which is the
base of many polymers, is an energy source in organisms.
is the common transport sugar for vertebrates, sugars are often
transported in other organisms as disaccharides. Sucrose, commonly
called cane sugar, is the form in which sugar is transported in
plants from the photosynthetic cells to other parts of the plant
body. Sucrose is composed of the monosaccharides glucose and
fructose. In the synthesis of a disaccharide molecule from two
monosaccharides, a molecule of water is removed in the process of
forming the new bond between the two monosaccharides. This type of
chemical reaction, which occurs in the synthesis of most organic
polymers from their subunits, is known as condensation. When a
disaccharide is split into its monosaccharide units, which happens
when it is used as an energy source, the molecule of water is added
again. This process is called hydrolysis.
are made up of monosaccharides linked together in long chains. Some
of them are storage forms of sugar. Starch is the principal food
storage form in most plants. Starch occurs in two forms, amylose and
amylopectin. Both consist of glucose units linked together. Glycogen
is the principal storage form for sugar in higher animals. Glycogen
has a structure similar to that of amylopectin except that it is more
highly branched. The principal structural molecule in plants is
cellulose. Cellulose is a polymer composed of monomers of glucose,
just as starch and glycogen are.
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