This is the third post in a weekly series about how to Prepare for College Biology. These posts include notes and access to online lecture materials. I would suggest this series for students who are going into biology courses in high school, dual enrolling, or starting their first biology course in college. These posts (and lectures) are a review. In week 1, I talked about homeostasis. In week 2, I talked about general chemistry. Although many people feel a little nervous when I mention the previous subject, this week’s topic takes that feeling up a notch. This week’s focus is Organic Chemistry.
Organic Chemistry is a sub-discipline of Chemistry. Organic chemistry is a large field of study which incorporates a lot of things used in industry (like fossil fuels). For our purposes, we are going to focus on the molecules used in biology for building blocks and fuel.
The four biologically important organic molecules are
- nucleic acids (DNA and RNA)
The top 3 you can find on any nutrition label that you read. Since that is the case, you know that we can use them for fuel. We also need the basic building blocks for our bodies to grow and/or repair. In humans, these are mostly fat, protein and nucleic acids. Different plants and animals use different combinations to make up their structure.
All organic molecules have carbon and sugar. They are made up of a chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms call the carbon backbone. The backbone then has groups of atoms called functional groups attached to it. It is important to realize that the functional groups are responsible for the identity of the organic molecule.
These organic molecules are called polymers. Polymers are large molecules that are put together from smaller molecules called monomers. Additionally, they are put together through a chemical reaction called dehydration synthesis. I talked about dehydration synthesis in my lecture on general chemistry (the part about the importance of water).
There is so much more to go through, therefore, don’t miss a section. You can get the notes and lectures in the free course.
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