Organic macromolecules are the molecules of life. They are the molecules that build all living organisms. They take many forms, but we will be examining their very basic forms. Before we get into the individual types of macromolecules- carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids- let's look at some general characteristics of organic macromolecules.

=1. Organic macromolecules must contain carbon in order to be considered "organic." If you examine the structure of macromolecules, you will see that carbon tends to form the backbone- or foundation- of these molecules. You don't have to know anything about these molecules to be able to recognize that they contain a whole lotta carbon.

Carbon has four valence electrons, so it easily forms long chains and rings with itself and other nonmetals.
Carbon Compounds



Carbohydrates (simple sugars to polysaccharides):

external image Carb_poly.gif
Note that the corners of the glucose hexagon all contain a carbon atom except for one corner that is an oxygen.

external image AminoAcid.gif

external image fattyacids.jpg

=2. Another interesting aspect of macromolecules is that they contain functional groups. These groups, many of them are listed below, allow our macromolecules to interact with one another in very predictable ways. What this means is a carboxyl group (-COOH) and an alcohol group (-OH) will tend to always behave the same way in certain situations. We can predict what will happen when these groups are involved. Below the list of functional groups are pictures of molecules with functional groups in them. Can you pick out the functional groups?

Functional Groups:

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Other Images:
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Other Links:
Functional Groups in Organic Molecules

Macromolecules with Functional Groups



Amino Acids:
external image AminoAcid.gif

external image phospholipid_structure.jpg