Tuesday 31 July 2012

Remembering Glucose

One of the (many) things my AS students struggle with is drawing biological molecules correctly. And even I often have to refer to my notes when drawing monosaccharides (though I never have a problem with amino acids or triglycerides). Well, with this simple aide-memoire, my students will never forget the structure of D-glucose:

This shows the direction of the hydroxyls when the D-glucose molecule is in a linear form, as shown:

Now, when I teach the structure of glucose, we mostly look at α-D-glucose, which has the structure:

So, I need to be able to adapt it a little. Turns out it's quite easy.

The fingers correspond to the hydroxyl groups on carbons 4, 3, 2 and 1. So for α-glucose, they need to raise their left hands and flip me the bird. They'll like that.

I might have to warn the invigilators before their Biological Molecules exam though. Don't want the little darlings to get kicked out for swearing at one of my colleagues...

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