Concepts of Biology (BIOL115) - Dr. S.G. Saupe (; Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Collegeville, MN 56321

Learning Activities - Biological Chemistry


 Life is nothing more, nothing less, than the structural organization of certain molecules.

B. Rensberger
Science 80



  1. Identify the type of bond that holds together atoms in a functional group

  2. Explain why carboxyl groups are acidic

  3. For each of the four major macromolecules in living systems:  (a) name the monomeric units (building blocks) from which they are made; (b) draw the general chemical structure of the monomeric units; (c)  identify the major functional groups that characterize the monomeric units; (d) identify the major functions.

  4. Explain the statement: �Life is polymeric�.  Are all macromolecules polymers?

  5. Be able to recognize the chemical structures for the major macromolecules (and their building blocks).

  6. Define condensation reaction.  Explain why condensation reactions can also be called dehydration synthesis reactions.

  7. Define hydrolysis reaction. 

  8. Explain the importance of condensation and hydrolysis reactions in living organisms.

  9. Explain the following symbols used in writing chemical structures:  R,  - ,  =

  10. Compare and contrast starch, glycogen, cellulose, chitin and sucrose.

  11. Distinguish between the primary, secondary, tertiary and quarternary structure of proteins.  Describe             how these structures are determined and maintained.

  12. Compare and contrast triglyceride, phospholipid, wax and steroid.

  13. Distinguish between a globular and fibrous protein.

  14. Compare and contrast hydrophobic and hydrophilic

  15. Answer questions at the end of the chapter 

Functional Group StudyComplete the following table

Functional Group Structure (draw) Name of compound if it only contains this functional group
methyl   not applicable
ethyl   not applicable

Polymer QuestionComplete the table

Polymer Example(s) Monomeric Unit Example of monomers
Polysaccharides (complex sugar, complex carbohydrates)      
Nucleic acids      

Concept Map:  Prepare a concept map using as many of the following terms as possible:  hydrocarbon, disaccharide, glycogen, starch, cellulose, polysaccharide, lipid, hydrophilic, nucleic acid, nucleotide, DNA, RNA, protein, polymer, amino acid, organic, carbohydrate, polypeptide, monosaccharide, condensation reaction, peptide bond, dehydration synthesis, hydrolysis, phospholipid, wax, steroid, fibrous protein, globular protein.

Test Yourself:  Answer the questions at the end of the chapter, in the study guide, or textbook web site.

Reading:  Go to the library and read some articles about biological chemistry.  Then, discuss them with your friends.   Good sources of articles are in Science News, Discover, Scientific American, and New Scientist.   Also, the New York Times has a good science section once a week.

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