Category: 

What are Organic Compounds?

Article Details
  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The seahorse is among the only animals on Earth which has males bear the young.  more...

September 30 ,  1949 :  The Berlin Air Lift ended.  more...

Organic compounds are the complex compounds of carbon. Because carbon atoms bond to one another easily, the basis of most organic compounds is comprised of carbon chains that vary in length and shape. Hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms are the most common atoms that are generally attached to the carbon atoms. Each carbon atom has 4 as its valence number which increases the complexity of the compounds that are formed. Since carbon atoms are able to create double and triple bonds with other atoms, it further also raises the likelihood for variation in the molecular make-up of organic compounds.

All living things are composed of intricate systems of inorganic and organic compounds. For example, there are many kinds of organic compounds that are found in nature, such as hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are the molecules that are formed when carbon and hydrogen combine. They are not soluble in water and easily distribute. There are also aldehydes – the molecular association of a double-bonded oxygen molecule and a carbon atom.

There are many classes of organic compounds. Originally, they were believed to come from living organisms only. However, in the mid-1800s, it became clear that they could also be created from simple inorganic proteins. Yet, many of the organic compounds are associated with basic processes of life, such as carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids.

Ad

Carbohydrates are hydrates of carbon and include sugars. They are quite numerous and fill a number of roles for living organisms. For example, carbohydrates are responsible for storing and transporting energy, maintaining the structure of plants and animals, and in helping the functioning of the immune system, blood clotting, and fertilization – to name just a few.

Proteins are a class of organic compounds that are comprised of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. Proteins are soluble in water. The protein itself is composed of subunits called amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids found in nature – organisms can convert them from one to another for all but eight of the amino acids.

Lipids comprise a class of organic compounds that are insoluble in water or other polar solvents; however, they are soluble in organic solvents. Lipids are made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and a variable of other elements. Lipids store energy, protect internal organs, provide insulation in frigid temperatures, among other features. Lipids can be broken down into several groups ranging from triglycerides, steroids, waxes, and phospholipids.

Nucleic acids are another group of organic compounds. They are universal in all living organisms. In fact, they are found in cells and viruses. Some people may not consider a virus to be a living thing. Friedrich Miescher discovered nucleic acids in 1871.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

anon344514
Post 29

Where is a list of organic compounds?

anon329412
Post 28

What are Organic Compounds made up of? (Elements of The Periodic Table)

anon312321
Post 27

What are the characteristics and functions of the different inorganic and organic compounds?

anon193470
Post 20

The following are organic compounds: carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and lipids.

anon164037
Post 19

what are the three main organic compounds?

anon134716
Post 16

Do you know any organic radicals? [and please explain what they are]

anon80487
Post 13

I get that naming organic compounds is difficult, but couldn't you put something in here?

anon71806
Post 10

can you explain the decomposition of living things more? please.

anon56466
Post 5

can you list some of the properties of organic compounds, like look, smell boiling point, feel etc.?

anon55526
Post 3

Turnips, carrots, leeks, potatoes, tomatoes --

these are all organic.

anon55525
Post 2

I don't know what organic compounds are, but i eat organic vegetables because i am a vegetarian.

xoxolabs
Post 1

Hm. Can you post here the list of organic compounds? :) Please!

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email