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Unit 1: Chemistry of Life


Carbon is essential to life
Organic compound == carbon
Inorganic compound != include carbon
Carbon leads to diversity

Determining factors of organic molecules’ properties

Carbon Backbone - gives structure shape, function
Functional Groups - part of molecule that participates in reactions
Backbone is unchanged, functional groups that react
Has four valence (outer shell) electrons (covalent)
Can bond with 4 other atoms
Create wide array of molecules
Atom unstable unless valence shell is full, reacts with other atoms

Organic Chemistry

Branch of chem that studies carbon compounds

Carbon Backbone

Central part of an organic molecule, determines structure (and function/properties) of molecule
Rings, linear, branching, and double bonds
Shape determines function -- variety of different molecules


Long chains containing carbon and hydrogen
Make up lipids
Contains lots of energy (lots of bonds, for ex. fat)
Nonpolar (Hydrophobic) - only polar if distribution of charge with an electronegative charge
(No O, Su, N -- electronegative atoms)


Structure leads to function
Compounds with same formula but different arrangement of atoms
Carbon backbone is different
Groups branching off backbone are different (functional groups)
Carbons are double bonded
Functional groups on opposite sides = trans
Functional groups on same side = cis
Mirror images of structure
Example: L-Dopa and D-Dopa - only difference is structure
L-Dopa treats Parkinson’s, D-Dopa inactive

Functional Groups - branch off Carbon Backbone

Participates in chemical reactions***
Alcohols (OH-)
Ketones (acetone) (carbon double bonded with oxygen)
Aldehydes (propanol)
Carboxylic acids, ie. acetic acid
Carbon double bonded to oxygen oxygen single bonded to another oxygen
Can be ionized or nonionized
Donate H+ ions to solution, acidic
Amines (glycine)
Neutral by itself
NH2 - can Ionize and become NH3+, accepts H+ ions (base)
Thiols (ethanethiol)
Organic phosphates i.e. glyceral phosphate (PO4)
Phosphorus bonded to four oxygens two oxygens have negative charges
In DNA, ATP, GTP etc.
Important phosphate groups




Large molecule consisting of many identical/similar building blocks (monomers)


First macromolecules

Building blocks for life
Volcanoes on earth released gasses like Carbon oxides, water vapor, methane, etc.
Water formed primordial seas, location of first macromolecules and first living organisms - 3.6 billion years ago

Stanley Miller made experiment simulate conditions on early earth, to create macromolecules abiotically

Included gasses, rain, and electricity
Gases reacted with one another
Water condensed and formed “sea” found monomers, the first macromolecules
Abiotic synthesis of monomers → chemical reactions

Earth covered in volcanoes, volatile, releasing gasses in atmosphere → formed primordial seas where sea meets land is where life started.

Start of life - took 1 billion years

Have right elements - CHNOPS
Elements come together to form the first monomers (amino acids, fatty acids, glycerol, monosaccharides, etc. building blocks)
Form polymers (proteins, triglycerides, nucleic acids, etc.)
Form cells → bacterial life

DNA (bases) and Proteins (amino acids) compare amounts that organisms share in common, more in common the more similar the organisms are

Molecular homology - things shared in common due to common ancestry

Monomers are repeating sub units in polymers

Fused by dehydration synthesis (remove water) and defused using hydrolysis (add water)




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