tricarboxylic acid cycle

or Krebs cycle or citric-acid cycle

Last stage of the chemical processes by which living cells obtain energy from foodstuffs. Described by Hans Adolf Krebs in 1937, the reactions of the cycle have been shown in animals, plants, microorganisms, and fungi, and it is thus a feature of cell chemistry shared by all types of life. It is a complex series of reactions beginning and ending with the compound oxaloacetate. In addition to re-forming oxaloacetate, the cycle produces carbon dioxide and the energy-rich compound ATP. The enzymes that catalyze each step are located in mitochondria in animals, in chloroplasts in plants, and in the cell membrane in microorganisms. The hydrogen atoms and electrons that are removed from intermediate compounds formed during the cycle are channeled ultimately to oxygen in animal cells or to carbon dioxide in plant cells.

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A tricarboxylic acid is an organic carboxylic acid whose chemical structure contains three carboxyl functional groups (-COOH). The best-known example of a tricarboxylic acid is citric acid.


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