Lanthanides ^ Actinides
FIGURE 1-12 Elements essential to animal life and health. Bulk elements (shaded orange) are structural components of cells and tissues and are required in the diet in gram quantities daily. For trace elements (shaded bright yellow), the requirements are much smaller: for humans, a few milligrams per day of Fe, Cu, and Zn, even less of the others. The elemental requirements for plants and microorganisms are similar to those shown here; the ways in which they acquire these elements vary.
form the strongest bonds. The trace elements (Fig. 1-12) represent a miniscule fraction of the weight of the human body, but all are essential to life, usually because they are essential to the function of specific proteins, including enzymes. The oxygen-transporting capacity of the hemoglobin molecule, for example, is absolutely dependent on four iron ions that make up only 0.3% of its mass.
Biomolecules Are Compounds of Carbon with a Variety of Functional Groups
The chemistry of living organisms is organized around carbon, which accounts for more than half the dry weight of cells. Carbon can form single bonds with hydrogen atoms, and both single and double bonds with oxygen and nitrogen atoms (Fig. 1-13). Of greatest significance in biology is the ability of carbon atoms to form very stable carbon-carbon single bonds. Each carbon atom can form single bonds with up to four other carbon atoms. Two carbon atoms also can share two (or three) electron pairs, thus forming double (or triple) bonds.
The four single bonds that can be formed by a carbon atom are arranged tetrahedrally, with an angle of
Was this article helpful?