Nitrogen in Organic Molecules
Biochemistry is a complax and wonderful branch of Biology. As we know, certain compounds are called “organic” becuase they were first discovered in living beings. They must contain Carbon and Hydrogen and may contain a whole plethora of other elements.
Some of the most common organic molecules that contain nitrogen include: amines,proteins, nucleic acids, amino acids and nitrobenzene.Nitrogen is used by living organisms to produce these complex organic molecules. For example, it is commonly known that legumes are hosts to “nitrogen-fixing bacteria” which convert atmospheric nitrogen to salts in the soil which can be absorbed by the plant to produce amino acids (building blocks of proteins).
Amines are characterised by the functional group -NH2. They are usually derived from ammonia, that is, they are formed when one hydrogen atom of ammonia gets replaced by an alkyl/aryl group. They are most often used to maufacture dyes and certain medication.
Nucleic acids are very large polymeric molecules. They are essential for all known forms of life. Nucleic acids, which include deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA), are made from single units known as nucleotides. Each nucleotide has three components: a 5-carbon sugar, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base. These polymers carry genetic information and form the basis of hereditary traits in all known forms of life. Structurally, they are famous for their double helix shape, first proposed by Watson and Crick. Due to this unique shape, the molecules can undergo encryption and replication.
Amino acids have both the amine group (-NH2) as well as the organic acid (-COOH) group. They are the building blocks of protiens and enzymes. There are twenty amino acids whose consumption is essential for proper functioning of the human body. Some amino acids, like Tryptophan and Tyrosine are neurotransmitters – chemicals that send signals in the brain. Industrially, we use amino acids like aspartame as artificial sweetners and flavour enhancers. Research is ongoing to use them to make biodegradable plastics.
Nitrobenzene is a common solvent for compounds that do not disslove well in water. Its chemical formula is C6H5NO2 . Once a popular reagent, it has now been reduced in use because it was found to be extremely toxic.
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