01 of 06
Organic compounds types and examples
Organic compounds types and examples are listed below. Organic compounds are called “organic” because they are associated with living organisms. These molecules form the basis of life. They are studied in detail in the disciplines of chemistry of organic chemistry and biochemistry.
There are four main types or classes of organic compounds found in all living organisms. These are carbohydrates , lipids , proteins and nucleic acids . In addition, there are other organic compounds that can be found in or produced by certain organisms. All organic compounds contain carbon, usually bound to hydrogen. Other elements may also be present.
Let’s take a closer look at the main types of organic compounds and see examples of these important molecules.
02 of 06
Carbohydrates – Organic compounds
Carbohydrates are organic compounds made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. The ratio of hydrogen atoms to oxygen atoms in carbohydrate molecules is 2: 1. Organisms use carbohydrates as sources of energy, as structural units, as well as for other purposes. Carbohydrates are the largest class of organic compounds found in organisms.
Carbohydrates are classified according to the number of subunits they contain. Simple carbohydrates are called sugars. A sugar made of a unit is a monosaccharide. If two units are joined, a disaccharide is formed. More complex structures are formed when these smaller units bind to each other to form polymers. Examples of these larger carbohydrate compounds include starch and chitin.
Examples of carbohydrates:
- sucrose (table sugar)
Learn more about carbohydrates .
03 of 06
Lipids – Organic compounds
Lipids consist of carbon atoms, hydrogen and oxygen. Lipids have a high hydrogen / oxygen ratio relative to carbohydrates. The three main groups of lipids are triglycerides (fats, oils, waxes), steroids and phospholipids. Triglycerides consist of three fatty acids linked to a molecule of glycerol. The steroids each have a backbone of four carbon rings attached to each other. Phospholipids resemble triglycerides, except that there is a phosphate group in place of one of the fatty acid chains.
Lipids are used for energy storage, to construct structures and as signal molecules to help cells communicate with each other.
Examples of lipids
- olive oil
- phospholipid bilayer that forms the cell membrane
Learn more about lipids
04 of 06
Proteins – Organic compounds
Proteins are made up of amino acid chains called peptides. Peptides, in turn, consist of amino acid chains. A protein may be made from a single polypeptide chain or may have a more complex structure in which the polypeptide subunits cluster to form a unit. Proteins consist of atoms of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen. Some proteins contain other atoms, such as sulfur, phosphorus, iron, copper or magnesium.
Proteins serve many functions in cells. They are used to build structure, catalyze biochemical reactions, for immune response, to pack and transport materials, and to help replicate genetic material.
Examples of proteins:
Learn more about proteins
05 of 06
Nucleic acids – Organic compounds
A nucleic acid is a type of biological polymer consisting of nucleotide monomer chains. The nucleotides, in turn, consist of a nitrogen base, a sugar molecule and a phosphate group. Cells use nucleic acids to encode the genetic information of an organism.
Examples of nucleic acids:
- DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
- RNA (ribonucleic acid)
Learn more about nucleic acids
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Other types of organic compounds
In addition to the four main types of organic molecules found in organisms, there are many other organic compounds. These include solvents, drugs, vitamins, dyes, artificial flavors, toxins and molecules used as precursors of biochemical compounds. Here are some examples:
- bromophenol blue
- carbon tetrachloride
- mustard gas
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