How Do Polysaccharides Form?

Polysaccharides are made up of repeating units of monosaccharides or disacchariedes that are fused together by glycosidic bonds. The polysaccharides produced in the end process are generally linear in shape with a narrow, straight and stem-like appearance and have various arrangements of branching and limb growth.

Polysaccharides are classified as polymeric carbohydrate structures. They are comprised of dozens, even hundreds, of smaller molecules called mono or disaccharides, which form long chains in the presence of glycosidic bonds. These bonds are comprised primarily of a starchy, viscous substance called glucose, which is a type of sugar converted by the body to produce energy. Glycosidic bonds are resilient and sticky and function much like glue to seal two or more saccharides together.

Polysaccharides grow to various sizes; like trees, some are short in length and have few branches, while others have many branches comprised of hundreds of monosaccharides. Although polysaccharides are formed from the same base units of mono or disaccharides, each repeating unit is slightly different than the one before. These differences may be modest or profound; in some instances, the fully formed polysaccharides (or macromolecules) are biologically and chemically distinct from their base building blocks. Polysaccharides are suited for life in many environments and thrive in water as well as land and in the air.