Also Known As Saccharides
Carbohydrates, also known as saccharides, are organic compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. They serve as an essential source of energy for living organisms and play important structural and signaling roles. Carbohydrates are classified into three main groups based on their chemical structure: monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides.
- Monosaccharides: Monosaccharides are the simplest form of carbohydrates and cannot be further hydrolyzed into smaller units. They have a general formula of (CH₂O)ₙ, where "n" represents the number of carbon atoms. Common examples of monosaccharides include glucose, fructose, and galactose. These sugars are usually in the form of rings in aqueous solutions.
- Disaccharides: Disaccharides are formed by the condensation of two monosaccharide units with the release of a water molecule. Examples of disaccharides include sucrose (glucose + fructose), lactose (glucose + galactose), and maltose (glucose + glucose). Disaccharides are often used as transportable forms of carbohydrates in plants and as energy sources in the diet of animals.
- Polysaccharides: Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates composed of long chains of monosaccharide units joined by glycosidic linkages. They can contain hundreds to thousands of monosaccharide units. Examples of polysaccharides include starch, cellulose, glycogen, and chitin. Starch is the main storage polysaccharide in plants, while glycogen serves as the primary storage polysaccharide in animals. Cellulose is a major structural component of plant cell walls, and chitin is found in the exoskeleton of arthropods and the cell walls of fungi.