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Macromolecules: Identification

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Submitted By ttan
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Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus are a very important part of all living organisms. These elements combine is various ways to make the molecules that make up biological systems. There are four major molecules (macromolecule) found in living organisms – Carbohydrates, Lipid, Proteins and Nucleic Acids. They all have different chemical properties and can be identified by their functional groups. A chemical test that is sensitive to these functional groups can be used to identify or test for the presence of each of the macromolecules. This lab tests for major macromolecules using such tests. (Karp, 2005) The Iodine test is used to detect starch and glycogen, the Benedict’s test is used to test for reducing sugars and the Biuret test is used to detect protein. (Landesberg, 2011)

The Iodine test is useful to distinguish starch and glycogen from other polysaccharides. A polysaccharide is a carbohydrate whose molecules consist of sugar molecules. Plants and animals store their simple sugars in the form of polysaccharides. The polysaccharide that plants use is called starch, and it has a lot of glucose units connected together with glycosidic bonds. Starch also has a polymer called amylose, which reacts with the iodine during the test and gives it a blue-black colour. Glycogen, in animals, is bigger (in terms of molecular weight) and it’s structurally very different. It has a lot of branches and they give glycogen the reddish-brown colour in the iodine test.

The Benedict’s test tests for reducing sugars. Sugars that contain an aldehyde group are called reducing sugars (University of Waterloo, 2014). When they are mixed and heated with the Benedict’s reagent, they reduce the Copper (II) ions in the solution to Copper (I) ions, and get oxidized. This causes the colour of the solution to turn to brick-red in presence of a reducing…...

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