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Many biochemical processes are the same in all organisms.

If you have visited our biology sections, you may recognize some of the ideas here. We felt it was more appropriate to have the biochemistry section located here in our chemistry pages. It is one of the crossover fields of chemistry. Biochemists have to understand both the living world and the chemical world. Even if you didn't want to become a biochemist, you'll still have to know the details of how atoms move if you wanted to be a biologist.

The key thing to remember is that biochemistry is the chemistry of the living world. Plants, animals, single-celled organisms... they all use the same basic chemical compounds to live their lives. Biochemistry is not about the cells or the organisms. It's about the smallest parts of those organisms, the molecules. It's also about the cycles that happen to create those biological compounds. The cycles usually rely on enzymes and other proteins to move atoms and molecules.

Biochemical cycles work together to make life.

You can guess from the name that biochemical cycles repeat over and over. They are the things that allow living creatures to survive on Earth. It could be the constant process of photosynthesis that creates sugars in plants, or the building of complex proteins in the cells of your body.

Every cycle has a place, and each one is just a small piece that helps an organism survive. In each of those cycles, molecules are needed (as reactants) and changed into products. It's one big network of activity where each piece relies on all of the others. A compound, such as an herbicide, may only break one part of one cycle in a plant. However, because everything needs to work together, the whole plant eventually dies.

Start with the Basics

While we have been talking about all of these cycles, we think it's important that you understand the different types of molecules you will find in biochemistry. You should be thanking us. We aren't going to go into the citric acid cycle and its ten steps. We won't even look at the eleven steps involved in the breakdown of glucose. At your level of understanding, it's enough to know the difference between a steroid, an amino acid, and a carbohydrate. There will be plenty of time for you to memorize the pathways and the movement of molecules during each step of a cycle.

Next Stop On Chem4Kids Tour
Next Page on Biochemistry
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> Overview
- Metabolism
- Cycles
- Carbohydrates
- Lipids
- Nucleic Acids
- Amino Acid Structure
- 20 Amino Acids
- Proteins
- Enzymes
- Enz. Regulation


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Organic Carbon and the World Around Us (USGS Video)
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Chemistry Quiz

Biochemistry Quiz

Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry

Many of you may have heard about organic chemistry. Even we find o-chem to be challenging. It's much broader than bio-chem, because it looks at every molecule that might have a carbon atom. You could be studying plastics, cellulose, gasoline, fats in your cells, or paint. Organic chemistry pertains to anything.

We like biochemistry because we learn about things that are inside of us. We can relate to what happens when we eat and how our bodies are constructed. We can imagine how the molecules are moving around the mitochondria or chloroplasts, as opposed to chemical changes happening over millions of years to make natural gas. If you choose a career in biology or chemistry, you will need to understand the information in both fields. Why? Because the movement of atoms in the bio-chem world follows all the same rules you learn in o-chem.

Reference Materials

SUNY: bio%20101/bio%20101%20lectures/biochemistry/biochemi.htm
Encyclopaedia Brittanica:

- Chem4Kids: Metabolism
- Biology4Kids: Scientific Method
- Biology4Kids: Cell Structure
- Geography4Kids: Carbon Cycle
- Geography4Kids: Biosphere
- Cosmos4Kids: Saturn's Moons
- Cosmos4Kids: Earth

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