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The Biochemistry Portal

Biochemistry, sometimes called biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. Biochemical processes give rise to the complexity of life.

A sub-discipline of both biology and chemistry, biochemistry can be divided in three fields; molecular genetics, protein science and metabolism. Over the last decades of the 20th century, biochemistry has through these three disciplines become successful at explaining living processes. Almost all areas of the life sciences are being uncovered and developed by biochemical methodology and research. Biochemistry focuses on understanding how biological molecules give rise to the processes that occur within living cells and between cells, which in turn relates greatly to the study and understanding of tissues, organs, and organism structure and function.

Biochemistry is closely related to molecular biology, the study of the molecular mechanisms of biological phenomena.

Much of biochemistry deals with the structures, functions and interactions of biological macromolecules, such as proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates and lipids, which provide the structure of cells and perform many of the functions associated with life. The chemistry of the cell also depends on the reactions of smaller molecules and ions. These can be inorganic, for example water and metal ions, or organic, for example the amino acids, which are used to synthesize proteins. The mechanisms by which cells harness energy from their environment via chemical reactions are known as metabolism. The findings of biochemistry are applied primarily in medicine, nutrition, and agriculture. In medicine, biochemists investigate the causes and cures of diseases. In nutrition, they study how to maintain health wellness and study the effects of nutritional deficiencies. In agriculture, biochemists investigate soil and fertilizers, and try to discover ways to improve crop cultivation, crop storage and pest control.

Biochemistry Specialties and Research areas

  1. Carbohydrate Biochemistry
  2. Lipid Biochemistry
  3. Protein Biochemistry
  4. Clinical Biochemistry/Chemical pathology/ Clinical Chemistry
  5. Nutritional Biochemistry and Vitaminology
  6. Environmental Biochemistry
  7. Toxicology and Therapeutic drug monitoring
  8. Immunochemistry
  9. Immunology
  10. Microbial Biochemistry
  11. Xenobiotics and Membrane Biochemistry


Selected article - show another

The structure of an alpha amino acid in its un-ionized form

Amino acids are organic compounds that contain amine (-NH2) and carboxyl (-COOH) functional groups, along with a side chain (R group) specific to each amino acid. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and nitrogen (N), although other elements are found in the side chains of certain amino acids. About 500 naturally occurring amino acids are known (though only 20 appear in the genetic code) and can be classified in many ways. They can be classified according to the core structural functional groups' locations as alpha- (α-), beta- (β-), gamma- (γ-) or delta- (δ-) amino acids; other categories relate to polarity, pH level, and side chain group type (aliphatic, acyclic, aromatic, containing hydroxyl or sulfur, etc.). In the form of proteins, amino acid residues form the second-largest component (water is the largest) of human muscles and other tissues. Beyond their role as residues in proteins, amino acids participate in a number of processes such as neurotransmitter transport and biosynthesis.

In biochemistry, amino acids having both the amine and the carboxylic acid groups attached to the first (alpha-) carbon atom have particular importance. They are known as 2-, alpha-, or α-amino acids (generic formula H2NCHRCOOH in most cases, where R is an organic substituent known as a "side chain"); often the term "amino acid" is used to refer specifically to these. They include the 22 proteinogenic ("protein-building") amino acids, which combine into peptide chains ("polypeptides") to form the building-blocks of a vast array of proteins. These are all L-stereoisomers ("left-handed" isomers), although a few D-amino acids ("right-handed") occur in bacterial envelopes, as a neuromodulator (D-serine), and in some antibiotics. Read more...

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