Carbohydrates are optically active poly-alcoholic aldehydes or ketones.
They contain the elements carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in the ratio 1:2:1.
These are biogenic and are found in both plants and animals.
Through food, one can avail large quantities of carbohydrates like sucrose, starch, cellulose, etc.
These carbohydrates are basically monomers and they form polymers to produce long chain and complex carbohydrates.
The monomers of carbohydrates are either formed due to the breakdown of complex carbohydrates or by the synthesis in the body.
What is the monomer of carbohydrates
A monomer is a basic carbohydrate molecule.
It can combine with similar units to form complex or bulk forms like polysaccharides, cellulose, starch, dimers, tetramers, glycogen, etc.
Examples of carbohydrate monomers
The carbohydrate monomers are classified based on the number of carbons in their chemical structure. These include
Three carbon monosaccharides
This group has only one monomer.
- It is called glyceraldehyde.
- This is the three-carbon carbohydrate that has an aldehyde group in its structure.
Since three carbons are present, it is also called triose sugar.
This monomer is naturally found in oils and fats as part of fatty acid ester.
It is a soft viscous liquid that has a mild sweet taste.
Four carbon monomers group
This group has two monomers which have 4 carbon atoms in its structure.
It is a 4 carbon monomer, i.e., a tetrose sugar.
It is also 4 carbon monomer similar to erythrose in structure with a small variation.
Five carbon carbohydrate monomers
- It is a 5 carbon monomer.
- A pentose sugar with many isomers.
- It is found widely in the nucleic acids of living organisms.
- It makes up the sugar part of RNA (Ribonucleic acids) and its deoxy form makes DNA.
So, ribose, a 5 carbon sugar, is one of the monomers of DNA and RNA.
Example is Arabinose
- It is 5 carbon saccharide is an aldopentose.
- It is obtained from guar gum and also hydrolysis of vegetable matter.
- It is sweet in taste and has two isoforms as below.
- But (L) is available in plenty in nature.
Another example is Xylose
It is a five-carbon monomer obtained from wood.
It has two isomers and is an aldehyde, as in the image below.
Another 5 carbon monomerLyxose
It is obtained from bacterial glycolipids. It is rarely available in nature.
Besides the above, there are also keto forms like ribulose, xylulose, etc.
Six carbon monomers
This group has monomers with carbons in them. These include 8 monomers like
A 6 carbon carbohydrate and a hexose sugar. It is one of the most abundant carbohydrates and sweet in taste.
It is also 6 member carbohydrate.
It is a milk sugar as it is found more in dairy products.
It is also found in gums and mucilage.
It is a carbohydrate that controls protein quality. It is formed in the body from glucose.
It is a monomer found in a few bacteria.
A 6 carbon monomer is found in bacteria, archaea, and few eukaryotes.
It is sweet in taste.
Another 6 member monomer, but it is unnatural.
8. Heptose: It is 7 member carbohydrate—heptose sugar.
Monomers of carbohydrates present in any sample can be identified by tests for carbohydrates.
1. Lehninger principles of biochemistry.