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What is Biochemistry?
In simple words, Biochemistry is the study of chemical reactions that occur in and are relevant to all forms of life. It’s the study of how to combine biological and chemical processes in a laboratory setting. Biochemists are able to comprehend and remedy biological issues by employing chemical understanding and approaches.
Biochemistry investigates phenomena occurring on the sub-atomic level. Investigations into proteins, lipids, and organelles, among other cellular components, are the main points of this field. How cells coordinate their efforts, like during development or disease resistance, is also investigated. Biochemists must know how a molecule’s structure is related to its function in order to foresee how different molecules will react with one another.
Several other scientific fields, such as genetics, microbiology, forensics, plant science, and medicine, fall within biochemistry’s broad umbrella. Biochemistry’s significance stems from its scope; the field’s rapid development over the past century. Being a member of this unique field of study at the moment is thrilling.
A biochemist’s job description:
- Make available novel concepts and experiments to better comprehend how life functions.
- Help us comprehend the relationship between health and illness
- Put forward ground-breaking ideas for the technological upheaval
- Collaborate with scientists, doctors, engineers, policymakers, and other experts in their fields.
Biochemists can be found working in a wide variety of settings, including but not limited to:
- Kitchen research facilities
- Criminalistics studies
- The Process of Making New Drugs
Many industries can benefit from a biochemist’s many transferrable talents.
- Fixing Issues
- Optimism prevails.
Fast-paced and always-evolving, the life science community is a global hub for professional development opportunities at every level. The government acknowledges the importance of biochemical and life science advances to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. The biotechnology business is growing quickly, and government funding for related research has increased considerably in many nations.
To encourage and promote interest in molecular biosciences, the Biochemical Society was founded. We host public engagement events and provide study and career guidance to students, faculty, and the general public.
Branches of Biochemistry:
The field of biochemistry has been a highly active scientific discipline in the previous century. Understanding of reaction kinetics and the atomic composition of molecules, for example, advanced rapidly from the 1500s through the 1800s. In the nineteenth century, scientists had already identified a large number of biochemicals. Since then, biochemistry has expanded, with far-reaching effects on many other academic fields.
The field of research known as biochemistry is concerned with the chemical processes and molecular interactions that occur in living organisms. The name suggests that the focus is on bringing together elements of both biology and chemistry. However, the true meaning of biochemistry is the application of chemical terminology to the molecular level of biological study.
Biochemical research has revealed striking similarities between bacteria and humans, including the presence of the same chemicals and the same fundamental metabolic processes. While scientists tend to narrow their studies to one species at a time, their findings frequently have implications for others.
Biochemists aim, in part, to synthesise disparate fields of study into a single, molecular account of life. Biochemistry as a field is interconnected with others like physiology, genetics, and cell biology, and does not stand alone. Therefore, animal and plant biochemistry, immunology, genetics, immunology, and enzymology are all sub-disciplines of biochemistry.
1. Animal Biochemistry
One of the most vital features of this world is the incredible variety of species that inhabit it. Researchers have been trying to find ways to categorise and rank these differences since antiquity. Initially, just the structures and processes are discernible, but advances in technology, such as the discovery of the electron microscope, and in biology have allowed scientists to examine diversity at a deeper, molecular level.
Animal biochemistry, then, is the study of the unique meaning of life as it is manifested in animals, while biochemistry generally refers to the study of molecules and chemical reactions in living organisms. Biochemistry focuses on the dissection of animal
This research has huge implications for the fields of veterinary medicine and animal agriculture. The study of biochemistry’s earliest subfields, animal biochemistry, comes first. The specifics of animal metabolism and its role in health and disease are better understood because to this research.
2. Plant Biochemistry
The study of plant biochemistry delves into the molecular basis of plant existence. Photosynthesis is a crucial process in plant biochemistry, and it primarily occurs in the leaves. Carbohydrates and amino acids are synthesised from water, carbon dioxide, nitrate, and sulphate through a process called photosynthesis. A large portion of these products are transferred from the leaves to the stem via the vascular system and then on to other parts of the plant where they are needed, such as the roots, where they are used to strengthen and provide energy.
A plant’s surface area is much greater than that of any animal. In order to maximise photosynthesis, many plants have thin leaves that allow CO2 to diffuse quickly and into the plant. A wide surface area increases a plant’s susceptibility to damaging environmental extremes such as drought, heat, cold, frost, and an overabundance of radiated radiation.
A British man named Joseph Priestly made the observation in the early years of 1771 that plants produce oxygen when exposed to sunlight and drew the conclusion that oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis and that it serves to purify the air. After the initial discovery of photosynthesis in 1937, it was shown by Robert Hill that water is the source of molecular oxygen evolution during the light phase. The process he uncovered is today known as the Hill response.
Plants and cyanobacteria initiate photosynthesis by absorbing sunlight or UV radiation and using the energy to convert inorganic chemicals like carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N), and sulphur (S) into organic compounds that can be used to build new cells. This skill is referred to as photoautotrophic. To produce oxygen and hydrogen, plants use light energy to divide water molecules, with the energy from the hydrogen bond being stored in a molecule called NADPH. The light reaction occurs in the photosynthetic reaction centres embedded in membranes.
The production of ATP is related to electron transport in this process. While doing this, a process known as the dark reaction uses up NADPH and ATP to produce carbohydrates from carbon dioxide. Biomass, including fossil fuel reserves and atmospheric oxygen, was produced by plants and cyanobacteria via photosynthesis.
The inability to generate energy from chemical reactions within their own cells renders animals and humans heterotrophic.
They oxidise the biomass that plants have created, providing them with the energy they need to sustain themselves. In the process of using up oxygen, CO2 is produced. So, plants store the energy of the sun to fuel animal metabolism.
3. Cell Biology and Molecular Biology
There can be one cell or many cells in a living thing, yet everything on Earth is made up of cells. It is possible to think of the cell as a droplet of water containing dissolved and suspended material, with the plasma membrane serving as the outer framework.
The basic operational unit of life is the cell. It is the smallest unit of a live thing that displays a wide variety of features. This is why learning about cells is essential in biochemistry. Even though there is a wide range in cell size and structure, all cells can be placed into one of two categories: eukaryotic or prokaryotic.
Organisms That Only Have One Type Of Cell DNA
Prokaryotic cells are smaller and have a simpler internal structure than eukaryotic cells. Prokaryotes, like bacteria, are typically unicellular organisms. Early research on E. coli revealed a wide variety of biochemical reactions, leading some to use it as a biological system model.
Protein-making ribosomes, or RNA protein complexes, are suspended in the cytoplasm of Gram-negative bacteria like E. coli. Most prokaryotic cells have a cell wall composed of a stiff network of covalently linked carbohydrate and peptide chains that surrounds the plasma membrane.
Some bacteria have an outer membrane made of lipids, protein, and lipids connected to polysaccharides in addition to a cell wall. Advantages of the small size of prokaryotic cells include a greater surface area to volume ratio, which facilitates simple diffusion. The cell’s nutrient supply can be evenly distributed through a process called simple diffusion.
Differentiated Cells of Eukaryotes
The nucleus of a eukaryotic cell is an integral part of the organism’s elaborate internal structure. Almost every multicellular organism, including plants, animals, fungi, and even some unicellular ones, has eukaryotic cells. The average volume of a eukaryotic cell is 1,000 times that of a prokaryotic cell. Due to its size and complexity, the cell requires a fast system for transporting materials within the cell and for communicating with the media outside the cell.
Organelle and cytoskeleton membranes serve distinct purposes within eukaryotic cells. The cytoskeleton’s role is in maintaining the cell’s form and directing traffic within the cell, while the organelles’ are typically associated with certain biophysical characteristics of the cell.
Certain components are unique to eukaryotic cells. The following are only a few examples:
The nucleus is the most distinctive feature of a cell and a well-established criterion for classifying organisms as eukaryotes. The nucleus’s envelope, or nuclear membrane, defines its structure. The nuclear envelope is a double membrane with protein-lined junctions. The nucleus is the cellular nerve centre, housing 95% of the cell’s DNA and performing all DNA transcription to RNA. The nucleolus was not only the location of RNA synthesis but also of ribosome assembly from their component.
In and Around the Golgi Apparatus and Endoplasmic Reticulum
The endoplasmic reticulum can be found on the nuclear envelope’s outer membrane. Lumen, an aqueous area, surrounds the endoplasmic reticulum. Ribosomes form a covering over the endoplasmic reticulum in a cell. The ribosome is a crucial component because it is attached to the membrane via proteins that are secreted from the ribosome and bind to the endoplasmic reticulum. Protein is being transported across the membrane and into the lumen.
Ribosomes that are not attached to the ER are free to circulate throughout the cell, and this is where protein production ultimately concludes. Golgi apparatus is a collection of flattened, fluid-filled, membrane sacs that are frequently located in close proximity to the endoplasmic reticulum.
The mitochondria and chloroplasts
They both play crucial roles in the cell’s ability to convert energy. Mitochondria are essential components of almost all eukaryotic cells and play a crucial role in cellular oxidative energy metabolism. In plants and algae, the process of photosynthesis takes place in organelles called chloroplasts. A double membrane, the inner membrane and the matrix, surrounds mitochondria. The matrix is loaded with enzymes necessary for aerobic energy metabolism.
The chloroplast has a double membrane structure, with the inner membrane (the thylakoid membrane) being strongly folded and forming a system of flattener sacs. Chlorophyll and other pigments let plants absorb sunlight through the thylakoid membrane.
As we have seen, a living organism is complex and highly organised, just like a cell. Subcellular structures within cells, known as organelles, are intricate assemblies of very large polymeric molecules. In addition, the three-dimensional structure of macromolecules like sugar and amino acids demonstrates a high degree of complexity. The conformation of a macromolecule describes its intricate three-dimensional structure. In this case, the conformation occurred as a result of the interaction of monomeric units with one another based on their unique chemical properties.
In biochemistry, the term molecular refers to the bio-molecule, the fundamental building block of all living entities. The four elements hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen make up more than 99% of the atoms in the human body, with the majority of the hydrogen and oxygen present as H2O. Carbon is a fundamental building block of all known biomolecules. Carbon can share electrons in its outer shell with the electrons of other atoms to create up to four of these bonds.
There are an endless number of possible permutations of the elements carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, yet this is not reflected in the molecular building blocks of biological matter. Instead, only a small subset of the numerous possible outcomes are discovered, and members of these collections all exhibit the same set of characteristics necessary for life to emerge and flourish.
4. Metabolic Processes
Metabolism means “changing” in Greek. The term “metabolism” refers to the overall process through which nutrients are transformed into energy and the cell’s final chemical product.
Metabolic processes are compared to living beings in modern biology textbooks. Before the advent of eukaryotes 1 billion years ago, early prokaryotes evolved all forms of feeding and almost all metabolic processes. Like the glycolysis metabolic process, which, in anaerobic conditions, releases energy from glucose and stores it as ATP.
In spite of the fact that the majority of cells share a common set of key metabolic pathways, the expression of these pathways is what distinguishes one type of cell from another. In terms of carbon requirements, there are two broad categories: autotrophs, which are organisms that can use carbon dioxide as their sole source of carbon, and heterotrophs, which are organisms that need an organic form of carbon, such as glucose, to synthesise other important carbon compounds.
Whether or not a creature needs oxygen as an electron acceptor in its energy pathways provides still another division. In contrast, organisms unable to do so are known as anaerobes. We, like all other known forms of life on Earth, are what are known as “obligate aerobes,” or organisms that require oxygen to sustain life. Bacteria like E. coli are examples of “facultative anaerobes,” or organisms that can thrive in an oxygen-depleted environment.
Metabolism serves two primary functions: energy production (to power important processes) and molecule synthesis (to create new organisms). There are two main metabolic mechanisms involved in accomplishing these goals. Catabolism is a type of metabolism that results in the production of energy, as opposed to the consumption of energy via anabolic pathways. Complex nutrients are broken down through oxidation during the catabolic process. Simple molecules including lactic acid, ethanol, carbon dioxide, urea, and ammonia are produced as a byproduct of catabolism.
Protein, nucleic acid, lipid, and polysaccharides are only a few of the complex bio-molecules that are synthesised by the anabolic process. Biosynthesis is an endergonic process that requires the input of chemical energy in the form of ATP in order to generate a new covalent bond.
The Russian biologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov was awarded the Nobel Prize in immunology in 1908 for his contributions to the field. The term “immunology” refers to the study of the defence mechanisms of other organisms, not just humans.
There are many subfields within the field of immunology, each of which focuses on a different aspect of the study of diseases brought on by immune system dysfunction.
Genetics and Immunology of Development
The study of how a person’s immune system forms and matures over time in response to environmental and genetic cues is known as developmental immunology.
While immunotherapy, as its name suggests, focuses on harnessing the immune system to treat disease, diagnostic immunology examines the use of antigens and antibodies to detect the presence of a material in an organism.
Studying the Role of the Immune System in Cancer
The field of cancer immunology investigates how the immune system may contribute to the development of cancer, while reproductive immunology focuses on how the immune system may affect the ability to have children.
The Sixth Principle of Heredity
It is now known, thanks to the Watson and Crick model, that DNA has a self-duplicating property and that this feature is activated during cell division. There is a well-defined process through which the genetic information in a parent cell is passed on to its daughter cell. However, recombination between the DNA or chromosomes of two parents can also result in variances across species.
Different characteristics are regulated by different mechanisms, as described by the Mendelian laws of heredity. Genes are what scientists initially called these determinants. Since 1950, molecular biology has expanded at an exponential rate, allowing for far clearer statements about the nature of genes.
DNA is the material that makes up genes. The nucleotide polymer in question is unbranched and runs in a straight line. In its strictest definition, a gene is a DNA sequence, which can have hundreds or thousands of base pairs. Enzymes are products of genes, and one of their roles is to catalyse particular reactions. It used to be that “one gene, one enzyme,” but since some enzymes are made up of many chains, this concept has evolved into “one gene, one polypeptide.”
Enzymes were first studied after it was found that microorganisms might be used to treat wine. Louise Pasteur was the first to show that yeast can ferment glucose without being completely destroyed in the process. Since then, up to the most recent finding, scientists have known that cells contain enzymes, which are chemical entities capable of catalysing numerous chemical reactions within the cell.
When James Sumner in 1926 isolated and crystallised an enzyme called urease from jack beans, he proved the actual nature of enzymes. As a result of his work, he realised that all enzymes, without exception, are proteins with a three-dimensional structure.
Divisions of Enzymes:
The oxidoreductase family catalyses the reversible oxidation and reduction of one chemical by another.
Transfereas are a class of enzymes that catalyse the transfer of various chemical groups. These groups include alkyl, methyl, carboxyl, aminoacyl, and many others.
Hydrolases are a type of hydrolytic enzyme that can add water to a molecule of carbon to break the carbon-carbon, carbon-nitrogen, or carbon-carbon bonds.
One category of enzymes, called lyases, is responsible for introducing double bonds and catalysing the removal of certain groups from their substrates.
Enzymes belonging to the family of isomerases catalyse the rearrangement of chemical groups inside a molecule, leading to the formation of isomers, epimers, and other structural variants.
Ligases, also known as synthases, catalyse the combining of two molecules and the hydrolysis of the phosphate bond in ATP or any nucleoside triphosphate.
Additionally, understanding the various sub-disciplines of biochemistry is crucial for progress in many areas of chemical development. Among the numerous important applications of biochemistry are those in the fields of animal and plant biochemistry, immunology, genetics, and enzymology (for which there are seven sub-disciplines).
Scope of Biochemistry:
Chemistry and biology are brought together in biochemistry. It integrates a wide range of disciplines in order to better understand the biochemical and physical processes that sustain life. It’s the study of what makes life possible. Additionally, the course introduces students to numerous crucial metabolic pathways and bioenergetics, as well as cutting-edge contemporary approaches that are applicable to present-day research in both academia and industry.
Biochemistry Course Objectives:
Students majoring in biochemistry now have excellent job prospects in both the private sector and the academic world. The following are only a few examples of its applicability outside of the medical field:
Human Health and Medicine
The discovery of new medicines, immunology, pathology, pharmacy, vaccines, etc. all rely on a firm grounding in biochemistry. Once a BSc. Clinical coordinators for large pathology chains, medical transcriptionists for a variety of healthcare organisations, and marketing directors for various pharmaceutical businesses are all viable career options.
However, the most significant application of medical biochemistry is the conduct of biochemical tests in the clinical laboratory. Pathologists can find work in patient diagnosis, follow-up, and screening in a diagnostic facility.
Another cutting-edge area of biochemistry with enormous potential in vaccine creation is genetic engineering, sometimes known as recombinant DNA technology. A postgraduate degree in Biochemistry can open doors to careers in academia or the research and development departments of large pharmaceutical firms.
Biochemistry is a crucial field of study for anyone interested in the medicinal and food uses of plants. Learning about the biochemistry of plants can set students on the path to careers as agricultural scientists. Agricultural researchers focus on improving agricultural yields, making plants more resistant to disease, and extracting useful substances from plants for use in medicine.
If students learn plant tissue culture techniques, they will be able to start their own successful farms and nurseries.
Biochemists can aid nutritionists by providing descriptions of many health-related elements of food consumption; biochemical testing can also identify the nutrient value of dietary material. It is possible to accurately track your intake of carbs, proteins, and fats by
There are a variety of opportunities for food analysts in the business sector at present. Adulterants can be discovered in a wide variety of foods.
Now more than ever, biochemistry majors should choose a career as a food security officer.
If you’re interested in science, you can pursue it further after high school. Get your master’s degree, then your bachelor’s degree in education (for a career in teaching), and finally your doctorate (Job Profile: Researcher or Professor).
Patent officer, Scientific Officer (BARC, DRDO, and ISRO), Epidemiologist, Forest officer, and Food security officer are just some of the government positions open to those with an MSc.
After earning a Master of Science in Biochemistry, you’ll have plenty of options for pursuing a career in research in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and other nations.
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