Is all body chemistry basically simple?

Discussion in 'Chemistry' started by Captain Kremmen, Dec 23, 2010.

  1. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    From a Biological site:

    All living things are made up of four classes of biological molecules: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids


    Is that right?
    Is everything in the body made from simple ingredients?

    The nucleic acids are macromolecules made from

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    carbohydrates,(same as Fructose, but a little more complicated)

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    and nucleotides, which are purines

    , and phosphates.

    Can anyone see any molecule which the body uses, which could not be made from these bases.
    Obviously we need metals as salts from eating them and some vitamins from the same source. Do we make all the purines?
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2010
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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Most of the human body is made up of water, H2O, with cells consisting of 65-90% water by weight. Therefore, it isn't surprising that most of a human body's mass is oxygen. Carbon, the basic unit for organic molecules, comes in second. 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of just six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus.

    1.Oxygen (65%)
    2.Carbon (18%)
    3.Hydrogen (10%)
    4.Nitrogen (3%)
    5.Calcium (1.5%)
    6.Phosphorus (1.0%)
    7.Potassium (0.35%)
    8.Sulfur (0.25%)
    9.Sodium (0.15%)
    10.Magnesium (0.05%)
    11.Copper, Zinc, Selenium, Molybdenum, Fluorine, Chlorine, Iodine, Manganese, Cobalt, Iron (0.70%)
    12.Lithium, Strontium, Aluminum, Silicon, Lead, Vanadium, Arsenic, Bromine (trace amounts)

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sour...nOC4Ag&usg=AFQjCNFyoa49ohQfZlvk6Kl4PEoUHddE0g
     
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  5. ULTRA Realistically Surreal Registered Senior Member

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    Some of our proteins are hellish complicated, and small errors can lead to debilitating illnesses like sickle-cell anaemia. Although we are made of mostly oxygen, carbon and hydrogen, it is often found in very complex structures.
     
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  7. Cifo Day destroys the night, Registered Senior Member

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    ... in the same way that all math is really simple because it's made up of only four kinds of operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division

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  8. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    Depending on what how low you want to go to qualify as "ingredients" For example in proteins there are 20 amino acids needed to make all the proteins in the body, that might sound simple but then there are post translation chemical modifications, stereochemistry, metal ligands, and then things start to get really complex despite a seemingly Lego like set of building blocks.
     
  9. Idle Mind What the hell, man? Valued Senior Member

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    Even carbohydrates are very complex. I'd say that biological chemistry is the most complex chemistry.
     
  10. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    How does the body make a metal ligand?

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  11. Cifo Day destroys the night, Registered Senior Member

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    Hemoglobin is a common metal-containing protein. The US National Library of Medicine describes the process for adding the iron to heme. A excerpt:
     
  12. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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  13. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    These tiny laboratories, of which thousands could be placed at the full stop at the end of this sentence, are amazing.
    The best chemists in nature are plants.
    Constantly subject to death by eating,
    they are evolutionary chemistry speeded up.

    I wonder if a healthy leaf in a plant can pass an immunity to a predator or disease, to another leaf in the same plant without having to wait a generation.
    It would seem like a good idea.Animals do it.

    Any experiments done on this?
    They would have to graft an immune leaf onto a susceptible plant.
    Have plants got anything similar to antibodies?
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2010
  14. kevinalm Registered Senior Member

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    IIRC, when you cut a limb off a tree, the tree deposites antifungal agents into the wood near the exposed surface. I'm going strictly on memory though.

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  15. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    It'd be a good experiment for a school project.
    Worthless for modern exam results of course, as not part of the syllabus

    Variation within leaves would be beneficial.
    And communication of immunity would be more so.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2010
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Fungi that can digest wood are very recently evolved organisms. They contain lignase, an enzyme that decomposes lignin.

    In the past, no organisms could break down dead trees. They just lay there for millions of years as the physical forces of weather and the environment eventually destroyed the structure of the cells and reduced the organic molecules to simpler forms.

    In rare cases the force was water, slowly passing through the cells and replacing the organic compounds with minerals. This resulted in the Petrified Forest in northern Arizona, a vast assortment of dead logs perfectly preserved--except they're composed of stone instead of wood.

    More commonly the dead trees were buried and the force of compression broke down the cells. First the tissues were simplified and pressed together as coal, then further pressure liquefied it into petroleum, or in some cases it was turned into natural gas. These are what we refer to as "fossil fuels," since coal, oil and gas deposits are the fossils of billions of trees.

    This process no longer occurs. One of nature's most humble organisms, the mushroom, arose through the process of evolution, and (some) mushrooms contain lignase. Walk through a forest and you'll notice that every dead tree lying on the ground is covered with mushrooms. They are detritivores, softening the lignin and sucking it up through their roots, to eventually be recirculated into the ecosystem.

    If you took that walk during the Carboniferous Era, the dead trees would be piled high, undisturbed by nature, waiting to become our fuel.

    Thanks to mushrooms, there will never again be any coal, petroleum, or natural gas. It's sure a good thing that we're using our limited, once-in-eternity supply of that stuff so wisely.
     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Why do you call these things "simple"?
     
  18. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks for the question.
    I had nearly forgotten this thread, and I had to think a bit to remember what I was getting at.

    Simple compared with what living beings can make from them.

    Take vitamin B12, made by bacteria.

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    How does a bacterium make such a complicated molecule from basic ingredients, at room temperature?
    Does it have a substrate, on which chemicals in a soup attach themselves?
    Or is it some kind of conveyor belt system, where specific molecules are brought as required?
    How does it stop unwanted reactions from occurring?
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2011
  19. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Careful, Fraggle.

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    One could be driven to the conclusion that you've never heard of peat based on your statement that I emphasized above. But I'm pretty certain that you *are* aware that there are two distinct "classes" (sources, actually) of coal.

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  20. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Is this a problem that has already been solved?
    I've not heard much about it.
     
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    With peat, the aquatic environment breaks down the lignin, which can't happen in a dry environment. It must be a very small percentage of the world's trees that live and die in bogs, although the other vegetation also contributes to the mass of the peat. So once we run out of the coal, oil and gas from the trees that covered the earth in the Carboniferous Era, will peat provide enough energy to replace it?
     
  22. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Well, Fraggle, I'm a but taken aback. I tried to be nice about it and even offered you a way to save face by mentioning that there was more than one type of coal. :shrug:

    However, with this glaringly obvious attempt of your to twist the matter of my correction to something I didn't say nor even remotely implied - the quantity of it - I see no alternative but to state it clearly: Your statement, "there will never again be any coal" is TOTALLY incorrect. :bugeye:

    Even though people in parts of the world abort the coal-forming process by harvesting peat, there are still areas where it's not interrupted. In fact, there's a little valley just over a mile from me where this is true. It's an active peat bog, fed primarily by leaves from hardwood trees and gets covered over every year with silt. The location and terrain is such that it has no appeal for any useful human purposes whatsoever; and as such, is not likely to be disturbed. And there are bound to be MANY locations just like it in other parts of the world.
     
  23. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Getting back to the real issue.
    How the hell does a bacterium make vitamin B12?

    In any case, you are both wrong.
    All coal is first peat, then coal.

    Coal's Formation
    About 300 million years ago, plants and trees grew in swamps that covered much of the earth. As this vegetation died, it drifted down to the bottom of the swamps and formed peat, a soggy, spongelike material. The peat became buried and compressed under the earth's surface over a long period of time. Over millions of years and through the forces of heat and pressure, the peat became coal.

    Some of the newest coal is only 1 million years old, and coal is still being formed. In fact, some regions in the United States—such as the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina and Virginia, the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, and the Everglades in Florida—offer good coal-producing conditions today. As their plant life dies and is covered by silt, sand, and other materials, new coal beds may form.

    http://www.teachcoal.org/aboutcoal/articles/coaljourney.html
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011

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