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chap4studyguide - Chapter 4 Carbon and the Molecular...

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Chapter 4 Carbon and the Molecular Diversity of Life Study Guide Overview: Carbon – The Backbone of Biological Molecules Although cells are 70–95% water, the rest consists mostly of carbon-based compounds. Carbon is unparalleled in its ability to form large, complex, and diverse molecules. Carbon accounts for the diversity of biological molecules and has made possible the great diversity of living things. Proteins, DNA, carbohydrates, and other molecules that distinguish living matter from inorganic material are all composed of carbon atoms bonded to each other and to atoms of other elements. These other elements commonly include hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), sulfur (S), and phosphorus (P). Concept 4.1 Organic chemistry is the study of carbon compounds The study of carbon compounds, organic chemistry, deals with any compound with carbon (organic compounds). Organic compounds can range from simple molecules, such as CO 2 or CH 4 , to complex molecules such as proteins, which may weigh more than 100,000 daltons. The overall percentages of the major elements of life (C, H, O, N, S, and P) are quite uniform from one organism to another. However, because of carbon’s versatility, these few elements can be combined to build an inexhaustible variety of organic molecules. Variations in organic molecules can distinguish even between individuals of a single species. Concept 4.2 Carbon atoms can form diverse molecules by bonding to four other atoms With a total of 6 electrons, a carbon atom has 2 in the first electron shell and 4 in the second shell. Carbon has little tendency to form ionic bonds by losing or gaining 4 electrons to complete its valence shell. Instead, carbon usually completes its valence shell by sharing electrons with other atoms in four covalent bonds. This tetravalence by carbon makes large, complex molecules possible. When carbon forms covalent bonds with four other atoms, they are arranged at the corners of an imaginary tetrahedron with bond angles of 109.5°.
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In molecules with multiple carbons, every carbon bonded to four other atoms has a tetrahedral shape.
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