Amino acids: they’re still too complicated for me. So instead, I present to you a carbonyl group.
A carbonyl group is composed of a single carbon atom double bonded to a single oxygen atom. The carbon still has two free bonding sites, so the carbonyl group can bond to at least one—maybe two—other chemicals.
Up next, we have a hydroxyl group.
It’s a single oxygen atom bonded to a single hydrogen atom. The oxygen still has one available bonding site.
Now, let’s put the two together.
Let’s call this a carbonylhydroxyl group. Actually, no. Let’s not do that. Let’s cut out the middle of that word and just call it a carboxyl group, because that’s less of a mouthful. Notice, by the way, that the carbon still has one bonding site left.
Like the amines we met last Molecular Monday, carboxyl groups are free to bond with other stuff, forming larger molecules known as carboxylic acids.
Examples of carboxylic acids include acetic acid (found in vinegar), fatty acids (which I probably get too much of in my diet), and—wait for it!—amino acids!
Okay, so now that we know about carboxyl groups and amines (a.k.a. amino groups), we’re ready to start building amino acids. Right, guys?
Dang it. Back to my research.
P.S.: In the process of researching today’s post, I stumbled upon a new word: zwitterion. I have no idea what a zwitterion is, but it’s now my #1 favorite word.
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Today’s post is part of a special series here on Planet Pailly called Molecular Mondays. Every other Monday, I struggle valiantly to understand and explain some concept in the field of chemistry. Please note: I suck at chemistry, but I’m trying to learn. If I made a mistake, please, please, please let me know so I can get better.