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Carbon-Based Molecules Part 1. Biochemistry. Objectives. SWBAT describe the bonding properties of carbon atoms. SWBAT compare carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids. Starter.

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Carbon-Based Molecules Part 1

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Carbon-Based Molecules Part 1



  • SWBAT describe the bonding properties of carbon atoms.

  • SWBAT compare carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids.


  • We have talked about carbon based molecules in other units. I want you to take a couple of minutes and make a list of the carbon based compounds we have touched on in this class or you have heard about in other places.

    • You may work in groups.

Vocabulary for Unit 2.3 (P. 44)

  • Monomer

  • Polymer

  • Carbohydrate

  • Monosaccharide

  • Polysaccharide

  • Starch

  • Cellulose

  • glycogen

  • Lipid

  • Fatty acid

  • Protein

  • Amino acid

  • Nucleic acid

Carbon: Building Blocks of Life

  • Carbon atoms are the basis of most molecules making up living things.

    • They form the structure of living things.

    • Carry out most of the processes that keep organisms alive.

    • Carbon atoms have special bonding properties, due to its atomic structure, which are unique among elements.

Carbon: Building Blocks of Life

  • Carbon atom has four unpaired electrons in its outer energy level – allowing it to form covalent bonds with up to four other atoms (including other carbon atoms).

Carbon: Building Blocks of Life

  • Because Carbon can form four other covalent bonds, it can form large molecules (long chains and rings).

Hydrocarbons are classified based on how many carbons strung together

How Cleanly a hydrocarbon burns is based on the length of the carbon chain. Fewer carbons equals cleaner burning.

Quick Question

  • Why is methane considered clean burning?

  • When it burns, what does it produce?

Carbon Chains and Rings

  • Carbon-based molecules have 3 fundamental structures (creating a lot of flexibility):

    • Straight chains (Pentene)

    • Branched chains (Iso-butane)

Carbon Chains and Rings

  • Rings (Vanillin and Hexane ring)

  • To reiterate, the bonding flexibility is due to the carbon’s ability to enter into up to 4 covalent bonds at the same time – forming large molecules

  • Links in a chain

    • Large carbon molecules are made out of many smaller ones linked together.

    Links are called monomers, the chains are polymers.

    • Each link, a smaller molecule, is known as a monomer (mono means one).

    • Monomers linked together form a polymer (a molecule that contains many monomers bonded together.

    Links are called monomers, the chains are polymers.

    Question to check understanding

    • What is the difference between a monomer and a polymer?


    • The word carbohydrate literally means “watered carbon.”

    • Do you remember the chemical formula for glucose? How does that remind us of the formula for water?

    • C6H12O6

    Carbohydrate Definition

    • Molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

      • They include sugars and starches.

    • Carbohydrates can be broken down to provide a source of usable chemical energy for cells.

    • They are a major part of plant cell structure (our producers).

    Glucose – simple sugar

    • The most basic carbohydrates are simple sugars.

      • Glucose is a simple sugar (it contains six carbons and is called a monosaccharide).

      • Fructose, found in fruit, is another six carbon monosaccharide.

    Simple sugars can be bonded together

    • Quick Test: When is glucose made?

    • Answer - photosynthesis

    • Simple sugars can be bonded to one another to make larger carbohydrates called polysaccharides.

    This is glucose linked as polysaccharides.

    Connecting a concept

    • Glucose is a monosaccharide – this makes it a what?

    • Answer – a monomer

    • A chain of glucose is a polysaccharide – so, a chain of glucose monomers makes a . . .

    • Polymer – a polymer is known as a macromolecule.

    So . . .

    • Multiple monosaccharides (monomers) linked together form polysaccharides (polymers).

    • Examples:

    Starch (storage and source of energy in plants), glycogen (storage and energy source in animals, and cellulose (plant structure), are polysaccharides

    This is a disaccharide known as table sugar

    Cellulose, Starch, and Glycogen

    • Cellulose is a rigid, straight polymer which makes up the cell walls of plants.

      • it is tough and fibrous (a good source of your fiber).

    • Starch – made and stored by plants and can be broken down for energy by both plants and animals.

    • Glycogen – made and stored in animals is highly branched but essentially does the same thing in animals that starch does in plants.

    Interesting Fact

    • Few animals have enzymes that allow them to hydrolyze cellulose.

    • Primary consumers (cows, pigs, goats, deer, termites, etc.), however, are able to use cellulose for nutrients because of protists and bacteria living in their guts.

    • Cellulose is the most abundant organic molecule on Earth.

    Entrance Ticket

    • What elements make up a carbohydrate?

    • Explain how the bonding properties of carbon atoms result in the large variety of carbon-based molecules in living things?

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