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A drawing of a phospholipid as a large circle with 2 rectangles projecting from the bottom. The circle is labeled hydrophilic head and contains glycerol (which contains 3 carbons). Attached ot one of these carbons is a phosphate (which is a phosphorus attached to 4 oxygen atoms). The rectangles at the bottom are both long carbon chains labeled as hydrophobic tails. One of the chains is a straight zig-zag line and is labeled saturated fatty acid. The other has a double bond that creates a bend in the line; this is labeled unsaturated fatty acid.
This illustration shows a phospholipid with two different fatty acids, one saturated and one unsaturated, bonded to the glycerol molecule. The unsaturated fatty acid has a slight kink in its structure due to the double bond.

The molecular structure of lipids results in unique behavior in aqueous environments. [link] depicts the structure of a triglyceride . Because all three substituents on the glycerol backbone are long hydrocarbon chains, these compounds are nonpolar and not significantly attracted to polar water molecules—they are hydrophobic. Conversely, phospholipid s such as the one shown in [link] have a negatively charged phosphate group. Because the phosphate is charged, it is capable of strong attraction to water molecules and thus is hydrophilic , or “water loving.” The hydrophilic portion of the phospholipid is often referred to as a polar “head,” and the long hydrocarbon chains as nonpolar “tails.” A molecule presenting a hydrophobic portion and a hydrophilic moiety is said to be amphipathic . Notice the “R” designation within the hydrophilic head depicted in [link] , indicating that a polar head group can be more complex than a simple phosphate moiety. Glycolipids are examples in which carbohydrates are bonded to the lipids’ head groups.

The amphipathic nature of phospholipids enables them to form uniquely functional structures in aqueous environments. As mentioned, the polar heads of these molecules are strongly attracted to water molecules, and the nonpolar tails are not. Because of their considerable lengths, these tails are, in fact, strongly attracted to one another. As a result, energetically stable, large-scale assemblies of phospholipid molecules are formed in which the hydrophobic tails congregate within enclosed regions, shielded from contact with water by the polar heads ( [link] ). The simplest of these structures are micelle s , spherical assemblies containing a hydrophobic interior of phospholipid tails and an outer surface of polar head groups. Larger and more complex structures are created from lipid-bilayer sheets, or unit membranes , which are large, two-dimensional assemblies of phospholipid s congregated tail to tail. The cell membranes of nearly all organisms are made from lipid-bilayer sheets, as are the membranes of many intracellular components. These sheets may also form lipid-bilayer spheres that are the structural basis of vesicle s and liposome s, subcellular components that play a role in numerous physiological functions.

A lipid bilayer sheet is when there are 2 rows of phospholipids across each other forming a flat surface. The polar heads of all phospholipids are towards the outside of the sheet, and the nonpolar tails are towards the inside. This lipid-bilyaer can also form a sphere. The lipid-bilayer forms the surface of the sphere; the  polar heads are on the outside of the sphere and lining the inside space of the sphere.  Lipids can also form a single-layer sphere where the outside of the sphere is the polar heads and the nonpolar tails fill the center of the sphere.
Phospholipids tend to arrange themselves in aqueous solution forming liposomes, micelles, or lipid bilayer sheets. (credit: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villarreal)
  • How is the amphipathic nature of phospholipids significant?

Isoprenoids and sterols

The isoprenoids are branched lipids, also referred to as terpenoids , that are formed by chemical modifications of the isoprene molecule ( [link] ). These lipids play a wide variety of physiological roles in plants and animals, with many technological uses as pharmaceuticals (capsaicin), pigments (e.g., orange beta carotene, xanthophylls), and fragrances (e.g., menthol, camphor, limonene [lemon fragrance], and pinene [pine fragrance]). Long-chain isoprenoids are also found in hydrophobic oils and waxes . Waxes are typically water resistant and hard at room temperature, but they soften when heated and liquefy if warmed adequately. In humans, the main wax production occurs within the sebaceous glands of hair follicles in the skin, resulting in a secreted material called sebum, which consists mainly of triacylglycerol, wax esters, and the hydrocarbon squalene. There are many bacteria in the microbiota on the skin that feed on these lipids. One of the most prominent bacteria that feed on lipids is Propionibacterium acnes , which uses the skin’s lipids to generate short-chain fatty acids and is involved in the production of acne.

Questions & Answers

is it better to study microbiology and then medicine it makes no difference to go directly to medicine?
Jessee Reply
Dray's mathdme cell wall konse color k hote he
Jinal Reply
what is dray's mathdme cell wall
I confused. please help me
just confused
l don't understand it please explain it for me.
Karen Reply
epitopes are present on the surface of
Rohit Reply
at the tip of variable region on the antibody...where antigen and antibody binding sites combine...
The term that is used refer to moving microbes under a microscope are referred to as?
Lee Reply
Members of the genus Neisseria cause which of the folowing human diseases?
Farah Reply
genital infections
4. Which of the following specimens should not be refrigerated? a. Urine b. Urogenital swab
Zahraa Reply
Details about McConkey agar
what is bacteria
anamika Reply
a member of large number of unicellular microorganism which have cell wall but lack of cell organelles an oranised nucleus including somewhat can cause disease
Bacteria are usually composed of one cell onl to that are neither plants nor animals, microscopic, that may cause diseases or may be beneficial(in gut)... it depends upon their weapons. Nearly all animal life is dependent on Bacteria for their survival
what factor make bacteria colony large and how could we sterlise it in large scale
nutrient concentration temp gaseous conc ph ion or salt concentration mositure condition factors contribute to make large colony. by autoclaving we will sterilize bactetia
Colony is actually visible growth of Bacteria that is as a result of suitable environment for growth i.e optimal conditions for growth, temperature, moisture etc. there're many methods to get rid of bacteria. If We stop giving them optimal conditions for living Bacteria will die soon .
what's the difference between an antigen and a pathogen?
Pathogens are organisms that cause disease in other organisms whereas Antigen is a part of a pathogen that triggers the immune response..
so it is the antigen that dendritic cells present to the T cells and not the pathogen itself?
no no antigen are the west product or part of the pathogen. in such case bacteria it self fight with over immune response & in another case bacteria release antigens
& other antigen like pollan grain, dust particles etc.....
pathogen are microbes that can infect the body and causw illness....antigens are the part of pathogens that alert the body to an infection
antigen is a part of blood and pathogen is foreign particle which causes diseases
antigen could be non microorganism.... where as pathogen is mixroorganism
a pathogen is a disease causing organism while an antigen is a protein in the white blood cells which combats pathogens.
what type of widal test
sobhit Reply
this test determine for typhoid in this test if H,O antigen are present that indicate the positive test bac. are salmonella typhy
what h.o denotes
o: body of bacteria, h: flagellate
Explain Mould
Chinenye Reply
Explain mycoses and it's classification
why do we have hiccups?
Manisha Reply
shakey diaphragm
The antibody binding site is formed primarily by:
Asalla Reply
How many types of MICROORGANISMS do we have?
Hope Reply
Hello friends
microorganisms are divided into seven type Bacteria archaea protozoa algae fungi virus and multicellular animal parasites
What's pathogenesity
Usman Reply
something that causes disease
who is the father of microbiology?
antonie van leeuwenhoek
it is the severity of the effects caused by a pathogen

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Source:  OpenStax, Microbiology. OpenStax CNX. Nov 01, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12087/1.4
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