The Macromolecules

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In this dehydration synthesis reaction, two molecules of glucose are linked together to form maltose. In the process, a water molecule is formed.

Source: OpenStax Microbiology

Carbon chains form the skeletons of most organic molecules. Functional groups combine with the chain to form iomolecules. Because these biomolecules are typically large, we call them macromolecules. Many biologically relevant macromolecules are formed by linking together a great number of identical, or very similar, smaller organic molecules. The smaller molecules act as building blocks and are called monomers, and the macromolecules that result from their linkage are called polymers. Cells and cell structures include four main groups of carbon-containing macromolecules: polysaccharides, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids.

Of the many possible ways that monomers may be combined to yield polymers, one common approach encountered in the formation of biological macromolecules is dehydration synthesis. In this chemical reaction, monomer molecules bind end to end in a process that results in the formation of water molecules as a byproduct:

Source: OpenStax Microbiology


Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: