Metabolites and Biomacromolecules

Hundreds of different organic compounds combine in varying proportions to form the cells of our body. Besides these, the metabolic reactions in our body too form intermediate products called metabolites. Thus, the organic compounds that are produced as a result of metabolism or are required for it are called metabolites.

As is evident, all metabolites can be called biomolecules. Larger and more complex biomolecules are called biomacromolecules. Also, there are two broad categories of metabolites. These are primary metabolites and secondary metabolites.

Let's find out more about primary and secondary metabolites examples.

Primary and Secondary Metabolites

Primary metabolites are manufactured in the cell and are essential for the growth of cells. Amino acids, nucleotides, polyols, vitamins and organic acids are some significant primary metabolites examples.

On the other hand, secondary metabolites are produced by an organism’s body and are not required for primary metabolic processes. Furthermore, these play a very essential role in ecological activities. For example, secondary metabolites such as drugs, flavours, dyes, fragrances, pesticides and pigments have widespread applications in the pharmaceutical industry as well as in agriculture.

Various Functions of Secondary Metabolites include:

  1. Acting as symbiotic agents between plants and microorganisms.

  2. Acting as asexual hormones.

  3. Functioning as transport agents.

  4. Can be used as agents against other fungi, bacteria and amoeba.


Pop Quiz 1

  1. Which of these are secondary metabolites examples?

  1. Pigments.

  2. Dyes.

  3. Flavours.

  4. All of the above.

In plants, secondary metabolites can carry out several functions.

  1. Firstly, these can drastically slow down the germination of plant spores until favourable conditions are met.

  2. Secondly, these can protect dormant spores from foreign agents such as amoeba.

  3. Thirdly, these can wipe off all competitive microbes from the surrounding environment during germination.


Activity: Revise your concepts by writing down a short secondary metabolites definition in your notebook.

Biomacromolecules

Biological molecules or biomolecules are substances that the cells of our body produces. These are only found in living organisms. Furthermore, they are key cellular components and perform a broad range of functions which are essential for our growth and survival. Biomolecules are of two types: biomicromolecules and biomacromolecules.

Most of the critical nutrients that our body needs are biomacromolecules meaning, the proteins, the carbohydrates and fats that we consume are all examples of biological macromolecules.

Moreover, biomacromolecules also play a critical role in the proper functioning of cells and their structure. Almost all biomacromolecules are polymers, which are chains of monomers linked together. Typically, these polymers comprise of nearly identical monomers, which combine in different ratios to form these complex biomacromolecules. To enumerate this, the average size of a biomacromolecule ranges between 800-1000 Daltons, and feature a very complicated molecular structure.

In addition, biomacromolecules can be divided into four broad types. The common biomacromolecules examples are carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and nucleic acids. In other words, all these types of biomacromolecules are built from smaller monomers that are linked to each other utilising covalent bonds. Given these points, it’s important to note that lipids are an exception and not polymers. They are not made of monomers.

Lipids are also a very crucial part of our cell membranes. Despite its high molecular weight, lipids are insoluble in acids.

The Nobel Laureate Hermann Staudinger first coined the term “macromolecule” in the 1920s. Significantly, he was the first to theorise that large biomolecules are usually made of small biomolecules linked together by means of covalent bonds.

Pop Quiz 2

  1. Which of these is not a Biomacromolecule?

  1. Carbohydrates.

  2. Proteins.

  3. Hydrochloric acid.

  4. Lipids.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are Metabolites?

Ans. The organic compounds that are produced as a result of metabolism or are required for it are called metabolites.

2. What are some secondary Metabolites examples?

Ans. Some examples of secondary metabolites are drugs, pigments and dyes.

3. What are Biomolecules?

Ans. Biological molecules or biomolecules are substances that the cells of our body produce and are only found in living organisms. Further, they are key cellular components and perform a broad range of functions which are essential for our growth and survival.