The Role of Carbohydrates in Living Organisms

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Adrian Conner L6E                                                                                                       19 September 2001


The Role of Carbohydrates in Living Organisms

Carbohydrates are composed of the elements carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The general formula is Cx(H2O)y. There are many different types of carbohydrates present in living organisms, each playing an important role in maintaining life of organisms.

Monosaccharides are a group of carbohydrates, which include simple sugars such as glucose, fructose and galactose. Monosaccharides are classified according to the number of carbon atoms they possess.

Trioses such as glyceraldehyde, and dihydroxyacetone contain three carbon atoms.  The phosphorylated form of glyceraldehyde is the first formed sugar in photosynthesis, and may (like dihydroxyacetone) be used as respiratory substrate, or is converted to starch for storage. Both of these trioses are intermediates in glycolysis, where glucose is broken down by enzymes into pyruvic and lactic acid.

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Pentoses such as ribose an ribulose possess five carbon atoms. Ribose or deoxyribose make up part of nucleotides and as such give structural support to nucleic acids RNA and DNA. Ribose is a constituent of hydrogen carriers such as NAD, NADP and FAD. Further more it is involved in the synthesis of coenzymes and ATP.

The third type of monosaccharides is hexoses like glucose and fructose, which possess six carbon atoms. Glucose has a number of significant functions in both plants and animals. Most importantly it is the major respiratory substrate in plants and animals. In addition to this, it ...

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A very good account of the role of carbohydrates. It would benefit from diagrams of the structure of each variety of carbohydrate, but other than that very comprehensive. 4 stars.