Biomolecules (Updated)

Captioning is on! To turn off, click CC button at bottom right! Follow the amoebas on Twitter (@AmoebaSisters) and on Facebook. I want you to think for a moment about your
very favorite food. What is it? Pizza? Macaroni and cheese? Chicken Salad? Sushi? Well we
all have different food preferences, but food is a source of large molecules that are needed
for life called biomolecules. There are 4 major biomolecules that make up all of life,
and this will be the focus of this video. Before we get into details about the 4 biomolecules,
we need to talk about one very important vocabulary word. The word monomer. A monomer
is a building block – if I had some large substance, the parts that make up that substance
are called monomers. Just like building blocks. We’re going to talk a lot about monomers today, because we need to understand what the biomolecules are made of. And we need to understand biomolecules, because they’re building components of life. So let’s introduce the 4 biomolecules now and talk a little bit about their functions. We’ll start with carbohydrates. Carbs. Well carbs are something you have
probably heard about when people are talking about diets. You know, they try to go low
carb or maybe they want a lot of carbs…diets always come and go. Pasta and breads are examples
of foods heavy in carbohydrates. Carbs are actually a very important source of energy.
In fact, that’s one big function of carbs. They are a great, fast source of energy. If
you were a marathon runner, you might want to eat a lot of carbs the night before a race. Lots of marathon runners do this. It’s called pasta loading. They eat a big pasta dinner
the night before they go out on their marathon. Now carbs have a monomer- again, remember,
monomers are building blocks. The monomer for a carb is called a monosaccharide. I know
that’s a big mouthful but monosaccharides make up carbohydrates. Next one up is a diverse group known as lipids. Lipids are better known as fats. They have 2 different types of building blocks. One type of building block is called a fatty acid and the other type is called a glycerol. Now examples of lipids include butter, oil, and cholesterol. Lipids, though, they have a lot of great functions. You may think well that’s fat…how good can fat
be? Well it just depends when you put it into context. For example, you know those really
adorable seals that you see on calendars? They have this fluffy white hair. They’re
actually called a harp seal. Well they actually only look like that when they’re babies. When they get older, they’re not quite as cute. But in their little baby stage, they
actually have a lot of this hair that they’re born with that help keep them warm. But over time,
they have to develop blubber. It’s fat and it helps keep them warm. Lipids are great
for insulating. Also you might not think about fats as being related to energy, but fats
are a great source of long term energy. They can store energy for a long, long time. Say
for example you wanted to swim the English Channel. That’s like 21 miles of swimming.
The fastest swimmers might be able to do that in 7 or 8 hours but it might take a lot longer
than that for the average swimmer. More like 25 hours, and that’s a lot of swimming. Well
you would want to make sure that your body has enough lipids- enough stored fat- that
it can pull upon. Because after you burn off those carbohydrates (remember carbs are the fast source of energy), you might not have enough energy storage unless you have some lipids on hand.
Lipids also make up cell membranes so they are very important for life because all living things are made of cells. Of course an
excessive amount of lipids could be a bad thing for your health. Remember it’s all about
moderation. Ok, next, proteins! When you hear about proteins,
a lot of times you might think about protein bars. They say they have lots of protein in
them and that they help with muscle building. Well protein is great for muscle building. Examples
of foods that are high in protein include meats and many types of beans. The monomers
of protein are amino acids. So sometimes you see these labels that say, “This has 20 amino
acids in this food.” Really they’re just trying to say that it has protein, and proteins are
made up of amino acids so that’s just some fancy advertising for you. But in addition to it being important for muscle development, protein is also very important in other functions such as working in the immune system and acting as enzymes. Remember enzymes are made of proteins
so proteins are important for the body. Now when we start talking about genes – the DNA genes not the jeans you wear- the DNA codes for proteins that are very important for structure and function in the body. The last big biomolecule is known as a nucleic
acid. Nucleic acids include DNA and RNA, which we’ll get to when we get to genetics. They
have a monomer called a nucleotide. That’s going to be an easy one for you to remember
because nucleotide sounds a lot like nucleic acid. If considering DNA and RNA, both of these
are involved in genetic information for the coding of your traits. They are found in a
lot of your food, because whenever you eat something that came from something once living,
it can still contain the DNA. For example, when you eat a strawberry, you’re actually
consuming all the cells that make up that strawberry. In the nucleus of all of those
strawberry cells is DNA. Plants and animals both have DNA. In fact, any type of life must contain nucleic acids like DNA to direct the cells’ activities. So we just powered through introducing the
4 biomolecules by providing examples, exploring their monomers, and giving some general functions.
One last very important part to mention is the structure of these biomolecules. Understanding
the structure can help with predicting their properties and easily being able to identify
them. One thing I like to tell students to do is to write the 4 biomolecules in this
same order we went through: carbs, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids. Then remember
this mnemonic device that goes with these 4 biomolecules. CHO, CHO, CHON, CHONP. Instead
of chomp at the end with a “m,” it’s chomp with an “n.” The c stands for carbon, the h stands for
hydrogen, the o for oxygen. So carbs, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids all have that
CHO in there. It’s just that proteins and nucleic acids also have an N which is nitrogen
and nucleic acids additionally have a P which is for phosphorous. So again CHO, CHO, CHON,
CHONP—the major elements in the 4 biomolecules. Now these elements are arranged differently in the 4 biomolecules—such as a ring arrangement or a chain arrangement. It’s important to
explore the arrangement of the elements in biomolecules, because the structure of that
arrangement greatly impacts the biomolecule function. So to the Google to discover some
biomolecule arrangement illustrations. Well that’s it for the Amoeba Sisters and we remind
you to stay curious.

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