# 24.1: Classification of Carbohydrates

Objectives

After completing this section, you should be able to

1. classify a specific carbohydrate as being a monosaccharide, disaccharide, trisaccharide, etc., given the structure of the carbohydrate or sufficient information about its structure.
2. classify a monosaccharide according to the number of carbon atoms present and whether it contains an aldehyde or ketone group.

Key Terms

Make certain that you can define, and use in context, the key terms below.

• aldose
• disaccharide
• ketose
• monosaccharide (simple sugar)
• polysaccharide

Carbohydrates are the most abundant class of organic compounds found in living organisms. They originate as products of photosynthesis, an endothermic reductive condensation of carbon dioxide requiring light energy and the pigment chlorophyll.

$nCO_2 + n H_2O + Energy \rightarrow C_nH_{2n}O_n + nO_2$

As noted here, the formulas of many carbohydrates can be written as carbon hydrates, $$C_n(H_2O)_n$$, hence their name. The carbohydrates are a major source of metabolic energy, both for plants and for animals that depend on plants for food. Aside from the sugars and starches that meet this vital nutritional role, carbohydrates also serve as a structural material (cellulose), a component of the energy transport compound ATP/ADP, recognition sites on cell surfaces, and one of three essential components of DNA and RNA.

Carbohydrates are called saccharides or, if they are relatively small, sugars. Several classifications of carbohydrates have proven useful, and are outlined in the following table.

 Complexity Simple Carbohydrates monosaccharides Complex Carbohydrates disaccharides, oligosaccharides & polysaccharides
 Size Tetrose C4 sugars Pentose C5 sugars Hexose C6 sugars Heptose C7 sugars etc.
 C=O Function Aldose sugars having an aldehyde function or an acetal equivalent. Ketose sugars having a ketone function or an acetal equivalent.
 Reactivity Reducing sugars oxidized by Tollens' reagent (or Benedict's or Fehling's reagents). Non-reducing sugars not oxidized by Tollens' or other reagents.

## Exercises

#### Questions

Q25.1.1

Classify each of the following sugars.

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

S25.1.1

(a) Aldoterose

(b) Ketopentose

(c) Ketohexose

(d) Aldopentose