The carbohydrates comprise one of the major groups of naturally occurring organic molecules and are amongst the most abundant constituents of plants, animals and microorganisms. In general, carbohydrates are polyhydroxy‐aldehydes or ‐ketones. They may contain, in addition, amino, acetamido and carboxyl functional groups.

Keywords: monosaccharides; oligosaccharides; polysaccharides; glycosides; glycoconjugates; carbohydrate recognition

Figure 1.

Aldose sugars of the D series.

Figure 2.

Acyclic (Fischer representation) and cyclic (Haworth representation) forms of D‐glucose.

Figure 3.

Derivatization of D‐glucose. (i) Ether formation to produce 2,3,4,6‐tetra‐O‐methyl‐D‐glucose. (ii) Glycoside formation to produce methyl‐α‐D‐glucoside. (iii) Acetalation to form 1,2,3,4‐di‐O‐isopropylidene D‐glucose. (iv) Ester formation to form 2,3,4,6‐tetra‐O‐acetyl‐D‐glucose. (v) Reduction to form D‐glucitol. (vi) Oxidation to form D‐gluconic acid.


Further Reading

Binkley RW (2000) Modern Carbohydrate Chemistry. New York: Marcel Dekker.

Bush CA, Martin‐Pastor M and Imberty A (1999) Structure and conformation of complex carbohydrates of glycoproteins, glycolipids and bacterial polysaccharides. Annual Review of Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure 28: 1–269.

Kuberan B and Lindhardt RJ (2000) Carbohydrate‐based vaccines. Current Organic Chemistry (2000) 4: 653–677.

Lindhorst TK (2000) Essentials of Carbohydrate Chemistry and Biochemistry. London: Wiley‐VCH.

Lis H and Sharon N (1998) Lectins: carbohydrate‐specific proteins that mediate cellular recognition. Chemistry Review 98: 637–674.

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How to Cite close
Sturgeon, Robert J(Jan 2003) Carbohydrates. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000690]