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Thread: Alpha and Beta Glucose?

  1. #1 Alpha and Beta Glucose? 
    New Member ErinZoe's Avatar
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    Hi,
    So, I'm totally new here but thought this might be a good place to ask a question.
    I'm doing summer prep work for AS Biology, and for one of my tasks I need to draw the ring structure of Alpha and Beta glucose. I've found what I think is the right structure but I can't find anything on the differences - at least that I can actually understand!
    If anyone can explain this in relatively simple terms (simple enough for your average A/B GCSE Biology student, anyway), I would be so so grateful, I'm getting pretty confused here!

    Thank you


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  3. #2  
    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    If you've got the structures in front of you then you really should be able to spot the difference if you look closely enough.

    They differ in the orientation of the hydroxyl group (-OH) at carbon #1 (usually on the right hand side in most diagrams). In the sort of diagram that is easiest to draw by hand, the alpha form has the hydroxyl group pointing "downwards", in the beta form it points "upwards".


    Not sure if you wanted it more complicated than that, or if you were looking for something else?


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  4. #3  
    New Member ErinZoe's Avatar
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    Ah, no I managed to work that much out, haha! Should have been clearer - I meant in terms of the differences between the uses, what other things consist of them etc. The question literally just says "...and list the differences", and I figure it's better to put in too much detail than not enough... Right?
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  5. #4  
    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    Have you looked at the formation of disaccharides and polysaccharides from these two different forms of glucose? Many alpha glucose molecules can be joined together, from carbon #1 to carbon #4, through a dehydration reaction to form starch, which has a helical structure. The bond is sometimes referred to as an alpha linkage or a alpha glycosidic bond. The same reaction with beta glucose results in the molecules being joined together through a beta linkage and produces the rigid-chain polymer known as cellulose.

    That's all I can think of right now.
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  6. #5  
    New Member ErinZoe's Avatar
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    Actually, that really helps. Thanks!
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