Polymers are molecules made up of long chains of smaller units called monomers. Biological polymers are those that are naturally produced by living organisms. Some common examples of biological polymers include:
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is essential to all living organisms. It is a large molecule that holds the genetic instructions for all organisms to develop and function.
The structure of DNA is a double helix, in which two strands wrap around each other. The chains in DNA are polymers made up of four different monomers called nucleotides. Each nucleotide contains three smaller molecules: a sugar molecule, a phosphate molecule, and a base molecule.
The four bases found in DNA are:
They form a sequence and code for genes with essential instructions for life and growth.
These bases are arranged in a specific sequence along the DNA strands and they code for genes with essential instructions for an organism’s growth and development. The order of the bases is what determines the genetic information that is passed down from parent to offspring.
Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients that are essential for the human body. They are classified into two categories:
Polysaccharides are formed by linking monosaccharides together through a process called condensation. During this process, a water molecule is eliminated, and a glycosidic bond forms between the two sugar molecules.
Amino acid monomers link together in a long chain to form a polypeptide. The polypeptide chain folds up or combines with other polypeptides to form a protein. This shape is essential to the protein’s biological function, as it determines how the protein interacts with other molecules.
The sequence of amino acids determines the unique structure and function of the protein. There are 20 different amino acids that can link together in different ways to create a vast number of protein structures. This diversity of structures allows proteins to perform a wide variety of biological functions.
Some examples of protein functions include: