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Biological Significance of Monosaccharides

  • Date Submitted: 07/13/2015 11:54 PM
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A monosaccharide, most often called a simple sugar, is the simplest form of carbohydrate. Monosaccharides all have the same basic structure, symbolized with the chemical formula (CH2O)n, in which ā€œnā€ stands for the number of carbon atoms. These molecules tend to have isomers, meaning they have the same formula but different structures. These assorted structures carry out a variety of biological functions in living cells, whether they're from single-celled bacteria or multicellular plants and animals
Biological Forms of Monosaccharides
Monosaccharides are characterized by the number of carbon atoms their molecules contain. Monosaccharides with the formula C6H12O6 include glucose, galactose and fructose, which are sugars used by organisms for energy. Xylose is a five-carbon monosaccharide, called a pentose, found in plant cells; this monosaccharide combines with xylan to form woody materials, such as those that make up trees. Similarly, arabinose is found in coniferous trees. Ribose and deoxyribose are components of ribonucleic and deoxyribonucleic acids, commonly known as RNA and DNA.
Fuel for Metabolism
One major function of a monosaccharide is its use for energy within a living organism. Glucose is a commonly known carbohydrate that is metabolized within cells to create fuel. In the presence of oxygen, glucose breaks down into carbon dioxide and water, and energy is released as a byproduct. Glucose is a product of photosynthesis, and plants obtain energy from glucose through respiration. Humans acquire glucose from food, and the body transforms this monosaccharide into energy.
Building Blocks
Monosaccharides are also the foundation for more complex carbohydrates, or they serve as components to amino acids. The ribose and deoxyribose monosaccharides are vital elements of RNA and DNA, which are the building blocks of life. While monosaccharides cannot be broken down into smaller sugars, disaccharides and polysaccharides are broken down into...


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