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Shown is the breakdown of maltose to form two glucose monomers. Water is a reactant.  The water molecule, upper case H subscript 2 baseline upper case O, breaks apart, with upper O upper H obtained by one of the glucose molecules, and upper H obtained by the second glucose molecule.
In the hydrolysis reaction here, the disaccharide maltose breaks down to form two glucose monomers by adding a water molecule.

Source: OpenStax Biology 2e

Hydrolysis (OpenStax Biology 2e)

Polymers break down into monomers during hydrolysis. A chemical reaction occurs when inserting a water molecule across the bond. Breaking a covalent bond with this water molecule in the compound achieves this. During these reactions, the polymer breaks into two components: one part gains a hydrogen atom (H+) and the other gains a hydroxyl molecule (OH–) from a split water molecule.

Hydrolysis is used broadly for substitution, elimination, and fragmentation reactions in which water is the nucleophile.

Dehydration and hydrolysis reactions are catalyzed, or “sped up,” by specific enzymes; dehydration reactions involve the formation of new bonds, requiring energy, while hydrolysis reactions break bonds and release energy. These reactions are similar for most macromolecules, but each monomer and polymer reaction is specific for its class. For example, catalytic enzymes in the digestive system hydrolyze or break down the food we ingest into smaller molecules. This allows cells in our body to easily absorb nutrients in the intestine. A specific enzyme breaks down each macromolecule. For instance, amylase, sucrase, lactase, or maltase break down carbohydrates. Enzymes called proteases, such as pepsin and peptidase, and hydrochloric acid break down proteins. Lipases break down lipids. These broken down macromolecules provide energy for cellular activities.

– What is a class of organic addition reaction that typically proceeds in a step-wise fashion to produce the addition product, usually in equilibrium, and a water molecule?

– What is a conversion that involves the loss of water from the reacting molecule or ion?


Clark, M., Douglas, M., Choi, J. Biology 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/biology-2e




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