Introduction: All organic molecules are made of carbon. Some of them, like carbohydrates, can form rings, while others, like lipids, form long chains. However, since they all start with the same basic building blocks, how is it possible to determine one organic molecule from another? The secret lays in special molecules that attach themselves to the carbon backbone. These molecules are called functional groups.
Each functional group has its own properties and when attached to a larger molecule, it transfers those properties to it. Some organic molecules are so large they may have many different functional groups attached to them. Some different functional groups are shown below.
This is an carboxyl group. It often attaches to to long carbon chains found in lipids.
This is an amino group. It attaches to the carbon skeleton that makes up proteins.
As you can see, functional groups have many different shapes and components.
Directions for this Lesson: Answer the practice questions and then watch the video to learn more about how functional groups work.