Welcome to Reciprocal Net!

Reciprocal Net  a distributed crystallography network for researchers, students and the general public


Reciprocal Net is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation as part of the National Science Digital Library project.  NSDL Logo
You are here : Reciprocal Net > Learn About > Common Molecules > Biochemical Molecules   

Common Molecules:
Biochemical Molecules
Kokoi frog Flower




Biochemistry is the study of the structure and properties of molecules in living organisms and how those molecules are made, changed, and broken down. It provides an understanding of what living organisms are composed of; how cells function and communicate; how they utilize building materials and energy for growth; how they perform catalysis, store and transmit genetic information; and how metabolism is co-ordinated and regulated. Examples of the types of molecules important to biochemistry are proteins, hormones, and nucleosides.

Amino acids are building blocks for protein. There are twenty naturally occurring amino acids, eight of which are essential amino acids that must be consumed as part of the human diet because the body does not produce them. Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate imperative bodily functions in living organisms. For example pheromones are hormones used by ants as a communication system to send messages among one another or by other insects to attract the opposite sex. Other examples of biomolecules are poisons found in animals such as the tiny kokoi frog that contain a toxin so powerful that 1 gram would be enough to kill one hundred thousand average-sized men. Batrachotoxin, a poison at the skin of the golden poison frog (Phyllobates terribilis) is considered to be one of the most deadly poisons to humans, however it is harmless to the predator, the snake Liophis epinephelus .

A current topic of research interest is the understanding of structures and processes involved in photosynthesis. Researches are fascinated with the process known as artificial photosynthesis, which refers to the development of processes that mimic or enhance the energy conversion processes occurring in natural photosynthesis. Such schemes have the potential to make a significant contribution to the energy needs of the future. By using energy from sunlight to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide to useful products, the process is renewable and doesn't contribute to global warming or pollution.

In the following section you will find structures such as amino acids that make up proteins, hormones that act as chemical messengers in the body, nucleosides from which DNA or RNA are composed and other molecules that are essential to life.

A chemical reaction that is utilizing catalyst by which the rate of the reaction is increased but the catalyst itself is not changed.
Complex combinations of amino acids that are present in plant and animal cells and are essential to life.
A substance, usually a peptide or steroid, produced by one tissue and conveyed by the bloodstream to another to effect physiological activity, such as growth or metabolism.
Any of the various compounds consisting of a sugar, usually ribose or deoxyribose, and a purine or pyrimidine base, especially a compound obtained by hydrolysis of a nucleic acid, such as adenosine or guanine .
This toxin is an alkaloidal steroid released through colorless or milky secretions from the granular glands (located on the back and behind the ears) of frogs from the Phyllobates terribilis, one of the “poison dart" frogs. The most common use of this toxin is by the Noanamá Chocó and Emberá Chocó Indians of western Colombia for poisoning blowgun darts for use in hunting.
The process by which green plants utilize sunlight to make food from carbon dioxide and water.
Element and IonsMaterials and TechnologyBiological MoleculesMinerals and GemsEnvironmental Molecules
Copyright 2004, The Trustees of Indiana University