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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

what is the size of virus
Beatrice Reply
What is the difference between TVC and Bioburden test
Mohamed
?
Mohamed
structure of bacteria and 10 types
Jennifer Reply
what is accidental host?
Domingo Reply
what is endomembrane system
Ikpi Reply
what is human anatomy
Ikpi
okay. Go ahead and ask
Blessing Reply
Industrial microbiology mcq
mohamed
Okay. What's your question?
Blessing
life arises from living matter or live organism.
Swami Reply
yes
sildra
I think live matter arises from non living matter
sildra
I dont think so...can u explain with an example
Manya
living maters made by non living matters
sildra
non living matters like stones? rocks?
Manya
eno
sildra
no
sildra
then?
Manya
cells are made by C N O minerals etc
sildra
I mentioned these as non living maters
sildra
that's all
sildra
cells are made up of those things but they originate from living things..
Manya
ok
sildra
Ok..good chat:-)
Manya
where are you from
sildra
thanks
sildra
India...u?
Manya
Tamil nadu
sildra
I am from Maharashtra
Manya
what about your studies
sildra
completed bsc.. preparing for msc entrance...wbu?
Manya
same
sildra
are you microbiologist
sildra
yes i am
Manya
good
sildra
what s the scope for micro in ur state?
Manya
did you find your college to higher studies
sildra
have to give an entrance exam for every college here...so lets c
Manya
food industries, medical lab, vaccine industries ,etc
sildra
hoping for pune University...wbu?
Manya
great!
Manya
is that centeral University right
sildra
what is your namr
sildra
hello
Udhaya
Hi
Maruf
Family kindly help me with this question? 1) Shortlist the configurative measurements of the following human anatomical ranges of÷ - Blood ( haemeglobin) in both male and female - Haematocytes in both male and female - Hepatocytes in both male and female - Lymphocyte / T. Lymphocytes in both male
Gifted
My names are Gift Mwale and am a Zambian. Kindly help me with this research which goes like this... 1) Shortlist the configurative measurements of the following human anatomical ranges of ÷ - Blood ( haemeglobin) in both male and female - Hepatocytes in both male and female - Haematocytes in both
Gifted
please what is the full meaning for TCDS
UDEME
from a single cell
Freedom
tcds means transcranial direct current stimulation...in this small electric currents are given to brain( specific parts) to help increase brain performance or to help with depression.. current should be in range 0.5-2.0mA
Manya
what's underlying disease relating unsanitary diet microorganism with the highest rate of epidemology solution and efficacy leading molecules elucidated structural solutions
feven
please can anybody talk about brain tumour and its cure.
BELLO Reply
enlargement of the thyroid gland resulting in over production of hormone.
Kamal Reply
What can u say on Thyroid Cancer?
Abdulkareem
Please, talk about the thyroid cancer.
BELLO
explain the Grave's disease
John Reply
what is cell
Avi Reply
is unit of life
Kamaluddeen
Ok
mohamed
who is an industrial microbiologist
Cynthia Reply
I want to know the biochemical composition of bacteria
Josh Reply
It contains peptidoglcon, DNA nd RNA
Asiya
what are Carrier protein
Ikpi
bacteriophage disadvantage
Momina Reply
disease due to __________ abnormalities are termed primary immunodeficiencies
Tayee Reply
Some primary immunodeficiencies are due to a defect of a single cellular or humoral component of the immune system.
Prince
Examples of primary immunodeficiencies include: chronic granulomatous disease, X-linked agammaglobulinemia, selective IgA deficiency etc
Prince
thank you
Nana
explain microbial mutation
Emerald
what is mutation
Cynthia Reply
alteration in genetic makeup
UDEME

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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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