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3: Biological Macromolecules

  • Page ID
    1775
  • [ "article:topic-guide", "authorname:openstax" ]

    Food provides the body with the nutrients it needs to survive. Many of these critical nutrients are biological macromolecules, or large molecules, necessary for life. These macromolecules (polymers) are built from different combinations of smaller organic molecules (monomers). What specific types of biological macromolecules do living things require? How are these molecules formed? What functions do they serve? In this chapter, these questions will be explored.

    • 3.0: Prelude to Biological Macromolecules
      Food provides the body with the nutrients it needs to survive. Many of these critical nutrients are biological macromolecules, or large molecules, necessary for life. These macromolecules (polymers) are built from different combinations of smaller organic molecules (monomers). What specific types of biological macromolecules do living things require? How are these molecules formed? What functions do they serve? In this chapter, these questions will be explored.
    • 3.1: Synthesis of Biological Macromolecules
      Biological macromolecules are large molecules, necessary for life, that are built from smaller organic molecules. There are four major classes of biological macromolecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids); each is an important cell component and performs a wide array of functions. Combined, these molecules make up the majority of a cell’s dry mass (recall that water makes up the majority of its complete mass).
    • 3.2: Carbohydrates
      Carbohydrates are, in fact, an essential part of our diet; grains, fruits, and vegetables are all natural sources of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy to the body, particularly through glucose, a simple sugar that is a component of starch and an ingredient in many staple foods. Carbohydrates also have other important functions in humans, animals, and plants.
    • 3.3: Lipids
      Lipids include a diverse group of compounds that are largely nonpolar in nature. This is because they are hydrocarbons that include mostly nonpolar carbon–carbon or carbon–hydrogen bonds. Non-polar molecules are hydrophobic (“water fearing”), or insoluble in water. Lipids perform many different functions in a cell. Cells store energy for long-term use in the form of fats. Lipids also provide insulation from the environment for plants and animals.
    • 3.4: Proteins
      Proteins are one of the most abundant organic molecules in living systems and have the most diverse range of functions of all macromolecules. Proteins may be structural, regulatory, contractile, or protective; they may serve in transport, storage, or membranes; or they may be toxins or enzymes. Each cell in a living system may contain thousands of proteins, each with a unique function. Their structures, like their functions, vary greatly.
    • 3.5: Nucleic Acids
      Nucleic acids are the most important macromolecules for the continuity of life. They carry the genetic blueprint of a cell and carry instructions for the functioning of the cell.

    Thumbnail: 1K6F_Crystal Structure Of The Collagen Triple Helix Model Pro- Pro-Gly103. Image used with permission (CC-SA-BY-3.0; Nevit Dilmen)

    Contributors

    • Connie Rye (East Mississippi Community College), Robert Wise (University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh), Vladimir Jurukovski (Suffolk County Community College), Jean DeSaix (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Jung Choi (Georgia Institute of Technology), Yael Avissar (Rhode Island College) among other contributing authors. The OpenStax College name, OpenStax College logo, OpenStax College book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the creative commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University. For questions regarding this license, please contact partners@openstaxcollege.org. Download for free at http://cnx.org/contents/185cbf87-c72...f21b5eabd@9.87.