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Structure and biological significance of lipids.

  • Essay length: 673 words
  • Submitted: 13/01/2005
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AS and A Level Physical Chemistry

The first 200 words of this essay...

Scott Bissett L6Du

Structure and biological significance of lipids

Lipids are made up of a wide variety of molecules, but they all contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, with a much higher percentage of carbon and hydrogen molecules than oxygen.

There are three kinds of lipids in living organisms: triglycerides, phospholipids and steroids (hormones).

Triglycerides are made up of a glycerol molecule, with three fatty acid chains attached by ester linkages. Glycerol is an alcohol containing 3 carbon atoms. The fact it is an alcohol means it has an -OH group at one end. Fatty acids are hydrocarbon chains, with a -COOH group at one end. This -COOH group reacts with the -OH group of glycerol, and a condensation reaction occurs, which is what forms the ester linkage. As this breaks apart the -COOH group, which is what makes fatty acids acidic, once the condensation reaction has occurred, the fatty acids will no longer have any acidic properties.

As the triglyceride is effectively surrounded by hydrocarbons, it is hydrophobic (water-hating)

There are two types of fatty acids: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds, and so

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