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Biochemistry Lecture Notes & Labs

Find information on biochemical processes. This section includes lecture notes, reaction summaries, molecular structures, databases, research projects, laboratory exercises, and detailed descriptions of biochemistry concepts.
  1. Amino Acids (6)
  2. DNA and RNA (7)

Elements in the Human Body
Find out what elements are in the human body and what these elements do.

Introduction to Biochemistry Quiz
How much do you know about biochemistry? Test your knowledge with this introductory biochemistry quiz.

DNA versus RNA
Although DNA and RNA both carry genetic information, there are quite a few differences between them. This is a comparison of the differences between DNA versus RNA, including a quick summary and a detailed table of the differences.

Amino Acids
The amino acids are important biochemical molecules. Learn about the characteristics and structures of the amino acids. Get the three letter abbreviations for the amino acids and see how they are characterized according to their polarity and side chains.

Carbohydrates or saccharides are the most abundant class of biomolecules. Carbohydrates are used to store energy, though they serve other important functions as well. This is an overview of carbohydrate chemistry, including a look at the types of carbohydrates, their functions, and carbohydrate classification.

Lipids are class of naturally-occurring organic compounds that you may know by their common names: fats and oils. Here's a look at the function, structure, and physical properties of lipids.

Nucleic Acid Facts
If you're taking general chemistry, organic, or biochemistry, you'll need to understand some basic concepts about nucleic acids, the polymers used to code the genetic information of organisms. Here are some quick nucleic acid facts to get you started.

Calvin Cycle
These are the reactions of the Calvin Cycle, which are the dark reactions in photosynthesis and carbon fixation.

Citric Acid Cycle
The citric acid cycle, also known as the Krebs cycle or tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, is a series of chemical reactions in the cell that breaks down food molecules into carbon dioxide, water, and energy.

Glycolysis is the name given to the series of biochemical reactions in which glucose is converted into pyruvate. This important part of carbohydrate catabolism takes place in the cytoplasm of cells. Several reactions take place, with products that are vital to the functioning of the cell.

Monomers and Polymers
Monomers are the building blocks of more complex molecules, called polymers. Polymers consist of repeating molecular units which usually are joined by covalent bonds. Here is a closer look at the chemistry of monomers and polymers.

Protein and Polypeptide Structure
This article describes the four levels of protein and polypeptide structure, with examples and links for additional reading.

Purines, Pyrimidines, Nucleosides and Nucleotides
These are the chemical structures of the purines, pyrimidines, nucleosides, and nucleotides.

Photosynthesis Basics - Study Guide
Photosynthesis is the name for the set of chemical reactions used by plants and other organisms to make food from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. Here's a look at the process and study questions to help make sure you understand the key concepts.

Photosynthesis Diagram
This is a generalized diagram of the chemical reactions necessary for photosynthesis.

Polymer Examples
Do you need some examples of polymers? Here is a list of materials that are polymers, plus some examples of materials that are not polymers.

Learn about the process of translation, in which the genetic code of mRNA is used to produce amino acids that will ultimately become proteins.

Amino Acid Chirality
This is an introduction to stereoisomerism of amino acids, with Fisher projections and stereorepre0entations of serine used as an example. There are links to learn more about amino acids and about chirality of other molecules.

Amino Acid Structures
These are the structures for the twenty natural amino acids, plus the general structure for an amino acid.

Anabolic Steroids
Learn what anabolic steroids are, how they can enhance athletic performance, and what risks are associated with using performance enhancing drugs.

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are added to many foods to prevent fat spoilage. This article describes what BHA and BHT are, what they do, and how they do it. There is a fairly lengthy list of references because there is controversy over the health effects of BHA, BHT, and other additives.

Biochemistry of Lycopene
Lycopene is the red pigment in tomatoes and several fruits. Find out more about how this antioxidant protects against cancer and heart disease.

Biodiesel from Vegetable Oil Tutorial
As the price of diesel continues to climb, you may wish to consider making your own diesel from cooking oil, called biodiesel. It's easy and could save you money.

Caffeine Chemistry
Learn about the chemical and biological properties of caffeine, the methylxanthine stimulant found in coffee and other foods.

Can You Drink Too Much Water?
It's important to drink plenty of fluids, but can you overdo it? Learn the truth about water intoxication and hyponatremia.

Carbon Cycle
Carbon is an element that is essential for life. The carbon cycle describes the storage and exchange of carbon between the Earth's biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.

10 Carbon Facts
Learn some interesting facts about carbon, the element that is the basis for organic chemistry.

Cell Molecular Composition
Cell Molecular Composition

Collagen is a protein made up of amino acids found in the human body. Here's a look at what collagen is and its functions.

Does Eating Turkey Make You Sleepy?
Find out why everyone wants to take a nap after Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner. Let's talk turkey and learn about L-tryptophan and carbohydrate metabolism.

Drugs from Plants
This is a table listing many of the pharmaceuticals that are derived from plants, including the names of the drugs, their actions, plant sources, and the common names of the plants.

Essential Amino Acids
This is an explanation of what essential amino acids are and a list of the essential amino acids for humans.

Fermentation is a process used to produce wine, beer, yogurt and other products. Here's a look at the chemical process that occurs during fermentation.

Food Chemistry Quiz
Do you know about the chemistry of food? Test your knowledge with this fun and quick ten-question multiple choice quiz.

Hair Color Chemistry
Over 75% of women and a growing percentage of men color their hair. Learn about natural haircolor and find out what happens when you bleach hair or use temporary or permanent haircolor.

Is There Really a Chemistry of Love?
Sweaty palms and a pounding heart don't just happen! It takes complex biochemistry to give you the symptoms of being in love. And lust. And security. Chemistry may even play a role in falling out-of-love. Get some of the details here, with links for further study.

Luminol Chemiluminescence Test for Blood
You can use the luminol chemiluminescence reaction as a quick and easy forensic test for blood. Here's a look at what you need to perform the test, how to do it, and an explanation of how the luminol test works.

Nitrogen Cycle
Learn about the processes involved in the nitrogen cycle, the biochemical cycle that describes the transformations of nitrogen as it goes through nature.

Osmotic Pressure and Red Blood Cells
See the effect of hypertonic, isotonic and hypotonic osmotic pressure on red blood cells.

Ricin and RCA - Castor Bean Toxins
Learn about ricin and RCA, the two potent toxins from the castor bean plant. Information is provided about the action, symptoms, and treatment of ricin and RCA poisoning.

Stomach pH
Your stomach produces hydrochloric acid, so you would expect it to be acidic. Do you know just how low your stomach pH gets or whether the pH is constant? Here's a look at the chemistry of stomach pH.

Tattoo Ink Chemistry
Tattoo inks aren't regulated by the US FDA, so what you don't know can hurt you. This 3-part article examines the pigments, carriers, and other chemistry-related issues concerning tattoo inks and their toxicity. Instructions for making your own tattoo ink are provided.

Theobromine Chemistry
The primary methylxanthine in chocolate is theobromine, a molecule similar to caffeine. See the structure of theobromine and read about its chemistry, effects on people and animals, and uses. There are links to chocolate history and chemical research, veterinary advice for theobromine poisoning, and related resources.

Urine Chemical Composition
Urine is a liquid produced by the kidneys to remove waste products from the bloodstream. Human urine is yellowish in color and variable in chemical composition, but here is a list of its principal components.

What Are the Elements in the Human Body?
Do you know the chemical composition of the human body? Here's the list of elements, given in percentage according to weight.

What Causes Rigor Mortis?
Dead bodies are sometimes referred to as 'stiffs' for a reason! Learn what rigor mortis is and find out why it happens.

What Is a Saturated Fat?
Saturated fats are important in diet and nutrition as well as chemistry. Here's an explanation of what a saturated fat is.

What Is the Volume & Chemical Composition of Blood?
Do you know how many liters of blood are in your body? How about what's in your blood? Let's learn about the chemistry of human blood.

Which Pathway Produces the Most ATP per Glucose Molecule?
It's important know how many ATP are produced per glucose molecule by various metabolic pathways, such as the Krebs cycle, fermentation, glycolysis, electron transport and chemiosmosis.

Why Are Babies Born with Blue Eyes?
Do you know the answer? It's a matter of chemistry as much as biology. I've included other factoids about eye color, including some that may surprise you.

Why the Flu Vaccine Doesn't Work
A new study conducted by the CDC indicates that getting the flu vaccine doesn't protect you against cold, flu-like illness, or even the flu. Surprised? Here are some reasons why the vaccine may not work.

Why Veins Look Blue
Your blood is always red, even when it is deoxygenated, so why do your veins look blue? They aren't blue, either, but here is the reason why veins look that way.

Elemental Composition of the Human Body by Mass
This is a table of the elemental composition of the human body by mass.

10 Interesting DNA Facts
DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid codes for your genetic make-up. There are lots of facts about DNA, but here are 10 that are particularly interesting, important, or fun.

10 RNA Facts
RNA or ribonucleic acid is used to translate instructions from DNA to make proteins in your body. Here are 10 interesting and fun facts about RNA.

Types of Lipids and Where They Are Found
Lipids are a diverse group of biological molecules. Here is a look at different types of lipids and where they are found.

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