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Biology 101 Chapter 4 – Carbon And The Molecular Diversity Of Life

Sandra Watson
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University of South Carolina

Biological Principles I (BIOL 101)

Chapter 4 – Carbon and the Molecular Diversity of Life
 Carbon: the backbone of life
o Unparalleled in its ability to form large, complex, varied
o Proteins, DNA, carbohydrates, and other molecules that
distinguish living matter are all composed of carbon compounds
o Organic Chemistry: the study of compounds that contain carbon
 Organic compounds range from simple molecules to
colossal ones
 Most organic compounds contain hydrogen atoms in
addition to carbon atoms
o Electron configuration determines the kinds and number of
o With four valence electrons, carbon can form four covalent
bonds with other atoms
o The valences of carbon and its most frequent partners:
hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen are the building code for the
architecture of living molecules
o Leads to carbon chains which vary in length and shape
o Hydrocarbons: compounds the contain only carbon and
hydrogen atoms



Biology 101 Chapter 4 – Carbon And The Molecular Diversity Of Life

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