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Why is organic chemistry so important in the study of biology?

Application of organic chemistry in biology.

Studying organic chemistry is difficult, especially for students taking biology-related courses. This is why many students ask themselves this question, why is organic chemistry so important in the study of biology? Well, organic chemistry plays a significant role in every living organism. It is essential to understand it because it forms the basic unit of every biological course.

Biology is a science that focuses on living organisms and their vital processes. These essential processes in living organisms depend on the chemistry of molecules—how these molecules interact with each other to form other molecules.

It is interesting to know that even in the formation of a human being, two cells react (combine) to form one cell that develops into a fetus. For the fusion of cells to meet and form a fetus, the conditions around must be conducive. If these conditions are not conducive, no other process will continue, and a fetus will not be formed. Some of the conditions to be checked include PH. Calculating PH requires knowledge of chemistry.

This is a perfect but simple illustration of how chemistry and biology are related.

Why is organic chemistry so important in the study of biology?

1) Chemistry is involved in the respiration process.

A cellular respiration reaction is when glucose and water are converted into water, carbon dioxide ATP energy. This reaction only occurs in a biological cell. Biology students must understand these reactions and how these molecules interact to form the final product. It is a critical process because it provides energy inside our bodies.

The overall respiration reaction is C₆H₁₂O₆ + 6O2 ———-> 6CO2 + 6H2O + ATP.

Glucose is an organic molecule. One glucose molecule combines with six oxygen molecules to form 6 carbon dioxide and six water molecules. This is an example of the application of chemistry in biology.

2) Chemistry is used in understanding hormones.

Hormones are these biological messengers that are used in all living organisms. To understand hormones, you need to come up with their 3D structure. Some of these structures are very much related, and any confusion during synthesis might have catastrophic effects on the patient.

A perfect example is an estrogen (the hormone responsible for female characteristics) and testosterone (the hormone responsible for male characteristics). These hormones cannot be understood if the 3D structures are not known.

Biology experts in pharmaceutical industries use these structures to develop synthetic drugs to administer to patients. To do this, they must have chemistry background knowledge.

The structure of estrogen and testosterone is

estrogen and testosterone structures

From the structures above, it is clear that they are very much related, only that one has an extra methyl group, and the alcohol and ketone are switched.

3) Determination of PH.

Determination of PH is also very important in the study of biology. This is because some organic molecules present in the human body might not function well if the PH conditions are harsh. For example, if you have too much acid in the body, doctors will administer basic drugs, usually called antacids to neutralize the effect. To come up with an antacid, the PH of the antacid must be determined, which requires chemistry knowledge.

In addition, amino acids behave and have different shapes in different PH. Some amino acids will be protonated, and others deprotonated in acid.

While in class, most teachers always ask about amino acids and how they appear in acidic or basic conditions.

Example:

  • Determine the structure of alanine at PH 2. (at PH of 3, the solution is acidic)
  • OR
  • determine the PH of alanine at PH 10 (at PH of 10, the solution is basic)

The following diagram shows the structure of alanine at PH= 2 and at PH=10.

Alanine at PH2 and at PH10

This is the most common reaction that occurs in plants. During the day, plants give us oxygen. This oxygen is formed due to chemical interaction in trees to provide oxygen gas and glucose.

The reaction taking place during photosynthesis is

6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2.

5) The polarity of molecules.

Knowledge about the polarity of molecules is very important. By knowing the polarity of a given molecule, you can predict how it will interact with other molecules inside the body. A simple example is the water molecule.

Water is highly polar because the difference in electronegativity between oxygen and hydrogen is huge. This difference makes the water to be a very good polar solvent.

Polarity is also applied in the study of amino acids. There are some amino acids, such as asparagine, cysteine, glutamine, and threonine which are polar, while others, such as phenylalanine, isoleucine, valine, alanine leucine among others are non-polar.

Knowing the polarity of this amino acid is useful in the synthesis of drugs for biological organisms.

Conclusion: Why is organic chemistry so important in the study of biology?

From the above few examples, we can answer why is organic chemistry so important in the study of biology? However, these are just but tip of the iceberg. Biology and chemistry relate in almost all aspects.

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