Biology Chapter 4


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CHAPTER 4 CARBON AND MOLECULAR DIVERSITY Aside from water, most biologically important molecules are carbon-based (organic). The structural and functional diversity of organic molecules emerges from the ability of carbon to form large, complex and diverse molecules by bonding to itself and to other elements such as H, O, N, S, and P. I. The Importance of Carbon A. Organic chemistry is the study of carbon compounds Organic chemistry = The branch of chemistry that specializes in the study of carbon compounds. Organic molecules = Molecules that contain carbon B. Carbon atoms are the most versatile building blocks of molecules The carbon atom : - Usually has an atomic number of 6; therefore, it has 4 valence electrons. - Usually completes its outer energy shell by sharing valence electrons in four covalent bonds. (Not likely to form ionic bonds.) Emergent properties, such as the kinds and number of bonds carbon will form, are determined by their tetravalent electron configuration. - It makes large, complex molecules possible. The carbon atom is a central point from which the molecule branches off into four directions. - It gives carbon covalent compatibility with many different elements. The four major atomic components of organic molecules are as follows: Hydrogen Oxygen Nitrogen Carbon - It determines an organic molecule's three-dimensional shape, which may affect molecular function. For example, when carbon forms four single covalent bonds, the four valence orbitals
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This note was uploaded on 08/12/2008 for the course BIOL 101 taught by Professor Hogan during the Fall '08 term at UNC.

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