One of the most unique things about an organic molecule is that it is considered the molecule of life because it is formed by chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Carbon has the ability to bond with other atoms as well as other carbon atoms, which creates a nearly endless number of molecules.
While living organisms are composed of organic molecules, they are also found in nonliving matter. While this may sound contradictory, one example is that of fossil fuels. Since these fuels are comprised of once-living matter, they contain organic molecules. There are four main classifications of organic molecules:
- Carbohydrates - The simplest form of a carbohydrate is a monosaccharide simple sugar. Organisms use carbohydrates as a type of energy.
- Lipids - Fats and oils fall into this class of organic molecules. Lipids are either saturated or unsaturated, and normally do not dissolve in water.
- Proteins - A protein is a long chain of amino acids. The four main functions of a protein are structure, movement, communication and chemistry.
- Nucleic acids - There are two types of nucleic acids: deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, and ribonucleic acid, or RNA. RNA is a molecule that is made up of a single strand, while DNA is a double-strand molecule twisted into a helix shape.