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The Economic Importance of Polysaccharides is Dependant on Their Chemical Structure

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Introduction

"The Economic Importance of Polysaccharides is Dependant on Their Chemical Structure" Polysaccharides are long, chain carbohydrates therefore they are insoluble in water. They contain thousands of glucose units, joined together by alpha or beta glycosidic bonds. A condensation reaction can occur when more than two monosaccharides are joined together to produce a polysaccharide, and as a result of this a water molecule is formed. However, adding water or acid can reverse this reaction, this is known as hydrolysis. The most common sugar found in polysaccharides is glucose. The diagram above shows two monosaccharides joining together to form a disaccharide, and this process is the same for polysaccharides. The three main examples of polysaccharides are starch, glycogen and cellulose. Starch Starch is made up of amylose and amylopectin. Amylose, is made up of several thousand glucose residues, which are attached by alpha 1,4 - glycosidic bonds. However, amylopectin consists mainly of alpha 1,4 - glycosidic bonds but it additionally contains alpha 1,6 - glycosidic bonds because it is a branched compound. ...read more.

Middle

(http://www.foodstarch.com) Often starch is used as a replacement for fat in many food products because it reduces the calorie value. Before starch is added to foods it is chemically modified and "noxious chemicals are added such as phosphorus oxychloride and adipic anlydride." (Starch - "Not so Sticky" - Biological Sciences Review) In foods and other products starch is also used to influence or control such things aesthetics, moisture, consistency and shelf life. Glycogen Glycogen is the main storage carbohydrate in humans. The primary structure of glycogen resembles that of amylopectin, but glycogen is more highly branched. The body tries to maintain a constant level of glucose in the blood. Therefore excess glucose is polymerised into the polysaccharide glycogen that is stored in the liver and muscle cells. The diagram above shows the structure of glycogen. Glycogen is stored in muscle and the liver. Glycogen can act as a short-term energy supply and is a lot more efficient when compared to fat. ...read more.

Conclusion

Cellulose chains are parallel and they are linked by hydrogen bonds, which then form bundles called microfibrils. This therefore means that cellulose has a high tensile strength and this makes them ideal in forming cell walls in plants. The diagram above shows the long chain, linked by � - Glucose residues. Cellulose is part of the plant structure. It helps keep the plant rigid and stable, however, flexible enough to sway. Cellulose is also commonly used in industry. For example it is used in textiles because it has a high tensile strength, therefore the fibres in the textile materials hold together better. Cellulose is used in cotton, linen and acetate. They are also used in plastics such as cellophane and they are also used in food decoration because cellulose is strong enough to keep the structure. As you can see polysaccharides have a wide range of uses not just economically in industry but structurally and naturally. Starch and Cellulose are the most vastly used polysaccharides in industry and glycogen is a very important energy store in humans. 1 Richard Gregory Biology Polysaccharides Essay 2 1 ...read more.

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