CHAPTER 5: Carbohydrates: How Sweet They Are summary

Structure of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are molecules made up of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon

There are two main types of carbohydrates:
  • Monosaccharides– known as simple sugars eg glucose
  • Polysaccharides- they are complex carbohydrates


  • This is single sugars
  • They have a generic formula; CH2O
  • They are colorless and crystalline solids which are water-soluble and insoluble in nonpolar solvents
  • They have a sweet taste
  • Monosaccharides have the following common features
    • 3,4,5,6,7 carbon backbone
    • A hydroxyl group (OH) is attached to every group of carbon. This group makes these sugars polar
    • One double-bonded oxygen that is attached to the carbon backbone. This is called a carbonyl group.

Monosaccharide classes are ketoses and aldoses

  • Aldoses – carbonyl group is found at the carbon chain end
  • Ketoses – carbonyl group is found on any carbon group within the carbon chain
  • Simplest monosaccharides include; two carbon chains aldotriose and glyceraldehyde and three carbon chains ketotrioses and dihydroxyacetone


  • Polysaccharides are polymers of monosaccharides.
  • To generate polysaccharides, Monosaccharides are combined by the condensation process.
  • During condensation, a  molecule of water is removed and a bond is generated between atoms of the growing polysaccharide chain.
  • Homopolysaccharides contain a single monomer type
  • Heteropolysaccharides– contain two or more types of  monomers
Classification of polysaccharides
  • Disaccharides- these are chains of two monosaccharides. An example is a fructose and lactose
  • Oligosaccharides-this are short chains of monosaccharides. They are part of plasma membrane receptors.
  • Polysaccharides- are long chains of monosaccharides. Consist of starch and cellulose
    • Starch-contains two types of polymers of glucose, amylopectin, and amylose
    • Glycogen– it is the main polysaccharide store in animal cells
    • Glycogen is more branched than starch

Functions of carbohydrates

  • Carbohydrates are great energy producers in living cells.
  • They perform the following important functions in cells
    • Carbohydrates are an important energy source for cells. Glucose is widely used as a source of cellular energy.
    • Carbohydrates are used as important structural molecules of cells. Cell walls of plants are majorly made up of polysaccharides. Cellulose with residues of D- glucose provides rigidity and strength to cell walls
    • Carbohydrates are useful cellular identity markers. Various cellular surfaces are marked by glycoproteins.
    • Carbohydrates are useful extracellular molecules. The sticky matrix surrounding the cell is composed of polysaccharides.


  • Polysaccharides serve also as information carriers
  • The polysaccharides also help in blood clotting, migration of cells during migration and healing of wounds.
  • Glycoconjugate– a carbohydrate  that is covalently attached to a lipid or protein
  • Proteoglycans-are cell surface macromolecules where one or more chains of glycosaminoglycan are attached covalently to secreted proteins
  • Glycoproteins –have oligosaccharides of different complexity attached covalently to a protein
  • Glycolipids– are lipids in membrane whose hydrophilic head group is an oligosaccharide.

Glycolipids and lipopolysaccharides as membrane components

  • Many proteins on the cell surface are glycoproteins
  • Oligosaccharides attached facilitate folding of the proteins and stability
  • Lipopolysaccharides are the most common feature of the outer membrane surface of gram-negative bacteria like escherichia coli and salmonella Typhi 


  • They read the sugar code
  • They mediate several biological processes
  • Serve widely in cell signaling, adhesion, and cell-cell recognition
  • Selectins- a group of lectins of the plasma membrane that facilitate adhesion and cell-cell recognition


what are carbohydrates?
cellulose, sugars, starch

what are the functions of carbohydrates?
provide energy through oxidation; supply carbon for synthesis of cell components; store chemical energy; form parts of cell and tissue structures

carbohydrates have a large number of what kind of functional groups?
hydroxy- aldehydes/ketones (aka, polyhodroxy aldehydes and polyhydroxy ketones)

what is a monosaccharide?
single polyhydroxy aldehyde/ ketone unit

what is a disaccharide?
two monosaccharide units linked together by the acetal or ketal linkages

what is an oligosaccharide?
3-10 monosaccharide units (less common)

what is a polysaccharide?
very large chain of linked monosaccharide units;
polymer consisting entirely of D-glucose units

what are the different types of monosaccharides?
glucose, fructose, galactose

describe the similar structure of D-aldoses
at the top, H-C=O. at the bottom, CH2OH. Differences are in carbons rungs in between.

what is the smallest monosaccharide?

what geometric shape does an L- or D- Glyceraldehyde molecule take?

what is an enantiomer?
each of a pair of molecules that are mirror images of each other.

what is a chiral carbon?
a carbon atom with four different groups attached

what makes a compound chiral?
when two compounds have the same molecular and structural formulas but cannot be superimposed on each other

previous review: generally describe a carbonyl group with R functional groups

where is the carbonyl carbon placed in carbohydrates?
at or near the top

when drawing the D-aldoses (example, d-glucose), how do you determine which side of the polyhydroxide rungs will cycle to the above side of the cyclic formation ring?
the oxygen of the carbonyl group at the top will point to the side which goes above.

what represents a chiral carbon?
The intersection of two lines

There are two kinds of enantiomers; how do we distinguish between the two?
a prefix label of:
L- or “levo” meaning “left”
D- or “dextro” meaning “right”
(for example: D-glucose and L-glucose)

what does the “L-” and “D-” label apply to on the enantiomer itself?
the “L-” and “D-” label applies to the side of the molecule which contains the -OH farthest from the first chiral carbon.

what are sugars called when they contain 3, 4, 5, and 6 carbons?
trioses, tetroses, pentoses, and hexoses
(note, sugars have the “-ose” suffix)

how do we indicate the presence of an aldehyde or ketone group in a sugar?
aldehydes in a sugar contain prefix “aldo-“
ketones in a sugar contain prefix “keto-“
(for example: glucose, a six carbon sugar which contains an R-CHO, or aldehyde, group, is an “aldohexose”; ribulose, a five carbon sugar contains an R1-C=O
R2, a ketone, is a “ketopentose”)

are most monosaccharides aldoses or ketoses? which series do most natural monosaccharides belong to (D- or L-)?
most monosaccharides are aldoses. most monosaccharides belong to the D- series.

Are monosaccharides soluble or insoluble in water? What makes them this way? Why is it important in living organisms?
monosaccharides are extremely soluble in water; this is because of the multiple -OH groups; it is important in living organisms because their solubility allows them to be transported rapidly in the circulatory system.

What do aldehydes and ketones with alcohols react to form?
hemiacetals and hemiketals

what is the general structure of a hemiacetal?
R– C –OH

how does a straight monosaccharide cyclize into a ring (which carbons are active)?
carbon 5 adds to the aldehyde group of carbon 1; predominantly cyclic hemiacetals/hemiketals

what is the general name of the ring formed during monosaccharide cyclization?
a “Pyranose” (pi-ran-ose) ring (a cyclic hemiacetal or hemiketal)

What main change occurs during the cyclization of a monosaccharide into a Pyranose ring?
only the Carbons at positions 1 and 5 change, the rest of the molecule is simply along for the ride.

What are the steps to drawing monosaccharides forming Pyranose and Furanose rings (Halworth Structures)?
beginning with a properly drawn monosaccharide chain…

  1. draw the ring with its oxygen to the back
  2. put the anomeric carbon (C-1) on the right side
  3. the terminal -CH2OH group (C-6) is always shown above the ring for D-monosaccharides

What is the difference between an “α- hydroxyl” and a “β- hydroxyl” pyranose ring?
“α-” means that the -OH on C-1 of the ring is positioned below the ring, and a “β-” means that the -OH on C-1 of the ring is positioned above the ring.

What do we call monosaccharides which form 5-membered rings?
Furanose ring

what is an example of a furanose ring?

what is another name for a the C-1 carbon on a Pyranose or Furanose ring?
the “anomeric” carbon

what is an ester? what is its general structure?
a carbonyl adjacent to an ether linkage.
General formula:

what is benedict’s test?
test to indicate reducing sugars. reduces all monosaccharides and some disaccharides.

how does benedict’s test work?
aldehydes and ketones having adjacent -OH groups are readily oxidized; open chain and cyclic forms of monosaccharides are readily oxidized

what do hemiacetals and hemiketals react with alcohol to form?
acetals and ketals

what is a glycoside?
a glycoside is an acetal or ketal formed from the reaction of cyclic monosaccharides with alcohols in the presence of acid

generally describe glycoside formation
hemiacetal sugar + alcohol —> acetal ring + H2O

what is a glycosidic bond?
when two monosaccharide rings are bonded using a C-O-C bond

what is the main difference between glucose and galactose?
differs in the orientation of -OH group attached to C-4

what does the hydrolysis of disaccharides in presence of dilute acid (or specific enzymes) yield?
hydrolysis of disaccharides yields monosaccharide units

describe maltose
two glucose units joined by a glycoside (C-O-C) linkage between C-1 on the first glucose and C-4 on the second unit; has an “α-” gylcosidic linkage between glucose units (linkage points below).

describe lactose
composed of one molecule of D-galactose and one of D-glucose;
linkage between units is “β-” (1—>4)

describe sucrose
common sugar;
composed of glucose and fructose joined by an “α-” linkage from C-1 of glucose and a “β-” linkage from C-2 of fructose

what type of sugar the major storage form of D-glucose in plants?

what color is the reaction between a polysaccharide and iodine?
deep blue

what are two starch fractions?
amylose and amylopectin

describe amylose
long unbraced chain of D-glucose units connected by an “α-” (1—>4) linkages

what is glycogen?
animal starch;
similar to amylopectin

what is cellulose?
the most important polysaccharide and most abundant compound in nature; provides rigidity and strength to plant cell walls; consists of D-glucose units linked by “β-” (1–>4) linkage

what is galactosemia?
genetic disease (autosomal recessive) in which an enzyme needed to metabolize galactose is deficient or absent; typically develops shortly after birth

what is lactose intolerance?
Congenital disorder consisting of an inability to digest milk and milk products; absence or deficiency of lactase results in an inability to hydrolyse lactose

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