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Chapter: Basic Concept of Biotechnology - Biomolecules

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Importance of carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are of great importance in biology. The unique reaction, which makes life possible on the Earth, namely the assimilation of the green plants, produces sugar, from which originate, not only all carbohydrates but, directly or indirectly, all other components of living organisms.

Importance of carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are of great importance in biology. The unique reaction, which makes life possible on the Earth, namely the assimilation of the green plants, produces sugar, from which originate, not only all carbohydrates but, directly or indirectly, all other components of living organisms. The carbohydrates are a major source of metabolic energy, both for plants and for animals that depend on plants for food. Aside from the sugars and starch that meet this vital nutritional role, carbohydrates also serve as a structural material (cellulose), a component of the energy transport compound ATP, recognition sites on cell surfaces, and one of three essential components of DNA and RNA. Importance can be considered under following headings;

 

Metabolic/Nutritional

 

The important role of carbohydrates, generally, in the metabolism of living organisms, is well known. The biological breakdown of carbohydrates (often spoken of as "combustion") supplies the principal part of the energy that every organism needs for various processes. Carbohydrates and their metabolism has been the subject of biochemical and medical research for a long time. Carbohydrates play a major role in promoting health fitness, form a major part of food and help a great deal in building body strength, by generating energy. They are one among the three prominent macronutrients that serve as excellent energy providers, the other two being fats and proteins. Carbohydrate intake can take place in different forms like sugar, starch, fibers etc., which are a dietary staple in most parts of the world, and the oxidation of carbohydrates is the central energy-yielding pathway in most non-photosynthetic organisms. The functions of carbohydrates are multiple and it is owing to this fact that it becomes all the more necessary to incorporate carbohydrates in our meal. For instant for energy generation, sugars and starch act as the perfect fuel that enables us to carry out our physical activities efficiently and effectively. Fiber does wonders in keeping your bowel function going smooth. Carbohydrates add on to the taste and appearance of food item, thus making the dish tempting and mouth watering. They are sometimes usedas flavors and sweeteners. Carbohydrates aid in regulating blood glucose and also do good to our body by breaking down fatty acids, thus preventing ketosis. Talking about the importance of carbohydrates, apart from its direct benefits, there is also an added advantage of carbohydrate consumption and that is that carbohydrates are found in different foods, which if eaten, also pave way for consuming other essential nutrients. Therefore, it is preferable to go in for distinctive carbohydrate food sources.

 

Biological importance

 

Ribose and 2-deoxyribose derivatives have an important role in biology. Among the most important derivatives are those with phosphate groups attached at the 5 position. Mono-, di-, and triphosphate forms are important, as well as 3-5 cyclic monophosphates. Purines and pyrimidines form an important class of compounds with ribose and deoxyribose. When these purine and pyrimidine derivatives are coupled to a ribose sugar, they are called nucleosides. In these compounds, the convention is to put a  (pronounced "prime") after the carbon numbers of the sugar, so that in nucleoside derivatives a name might include, for instance, the term "5-monophosphate", meaning that the phosphate group is attached to the fifth carbon of the sugar, and not to the base. The bases are attached to the 1 ribose carbon in the common nucleosides. Phosphorylated nucleosides are called nucleotides. One of the common bases is adenine (a purine derivative); coupled to ribose it is called adenosine; coupled to deoxyribose it is called deoxyadenosine. The 5-triphosphate derivative of adenosine, commonly called ATP, for adenosine triphosphate, is an important energy transport molecule in cells. 2-Deoxyribose and ribose nucleotides are often found in unbranched 5-3 polymers. In these structures, the 3carbon of one monomer unit is linked to a phosphate that is attached to the 5carbon of the next unit, and so on. These polymer chains often contain many millions of monomer units. Since long polymers have physical properties distinctly different from those of small molecules, they are called macromolecules. The sugar-phosphate-sugar chain is called the backbone of the polymer. One end of the backbone has a free 5phosphate, and the other end has a free 3OH group. The backbone structure is independent of which particular bases are attached to the individual sugars.

 

     Genetic material in earthly life often contains poly 5-3, 2-deoxyribose nucleotides, in structures called chromosomes, where each monomer is one of the nucleotides deoxy- adenine, thymine, guanine or cytosine. This material is commonly called deoxyribonucleic acid, or simply DNA for short. DNA in chromosomes forms very long helical structures containing two molecules with the backbones running in opposite directions on the outside of the helix and held together by hydrogen bonds between complementary nucleotide bases lying between the helical backbones. The lack of the 2hydroxyl group in DNA appears to allow the backbone the flexibility to assume the full conformation of the long double-helix, which involves not only the basic helix, but additional coiling necessary to fit these very long molecules into the very small volume of a cell nucleus. In contrast, very similar molecules, containing ribose instead of deoxyribose, and known generically as RNA, are known to form only relatively short double-helical complementary base paired structures. These are well known, for instance, in ribosomal RNA molecules and in transfer RNA (tRNA), where so-called hairpin structures from palindrome sequences within one molecule.

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