Protein Denaturation-An Important Concept In Biology

Biology has many topics which unfold the truths of nature in an interesting way. Protein denaturation is one such topic which shows how denaturation of protein is found in common household activities like cooking.

What are proteins?

Proteins are found in all living beings. They are large molecules which are composed of folded amino acid chains. Every protein has its unique shape and functions as based on its shape. Proteins are like keys that fit into certain shaped locks around the body of living organisms. Proteins are required for speeding up biological processes, recognizing antibodies, providing substances, regulating physiological processes and genes, transporting substances and responding to signals inside and outside of the organism.


Denaturation of proteins

Denaturation is the process by which proteins lose their structure and stop to function. The four levels of protein structure are primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary.

The primary structure of a protein is the sequence of amino acids that form the proteins. Every protein has a unique sequence for the amino acids. If the amino acids are not in order, proteins will not function properly.

The secondary structure of a protein describes regular repeated patterns of initial folding that are found in the protein. There are two types of folding at this level- alpha helices and beta sheets. An alpha helix is a spiral coil shape that is formed by hydrogen bonds. Beta sheets are formed when two amino acid chains align and form a flat or wrinkled area pattern.


The tertiary structure of a protein describes the shape of the protein when all the amino acids, alpha helices and beta sheets are folded into a specific structure.

The quaternary structure describes a protein which is composed of two folded amino acid chain subunits that come together to form one final protein.

What is denaturation of proteins?

Take the example of an egg. Eggs turn hard when you boil them. It is because the protein molecules start to unfold when the white egg is heated up. This process is called denaturation.

Denaturation involves changes in the primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures of a protein. It happens because of the disruption of the weak noncovelant bonds that stabilize those higher orders of protein structure. Denaturation decreases the diffusion coefficient   and crystallization of proteins. It alters the surface tension, extinction coefficient and absorption spectrum.

denaturation of proteins

Stability of a protein is determined by measuring the difference between free energy of the folded and unfolded state under equilibrium condition. Most proteins have irreversible denaturation on exposure to high temperatures. Cooking food denatures proteins and makes digestion more efficient.

The three types of denaturation

  1. Temperature denaturation
  2. pH denaturation
  3. Denaturation by organic solvents

Causes for denaturation of proteins

Extremes of pH, chaotropic agents and heating are the causes of denaturation. The extent of denaturation depends upon protein type, moisture content, concentration, ionic concentration and composition.

Incorporation of air bubbles and adsorption of protein molecules to the air- liquid interface also cause denaturation of proteins. The extent of change in conformation of proteins is based on the flexibility of the proteins. Highly flexible proteins denature more readily than the rigid ones do at an air- liquid interface.

Causes for denaturation of proteinsCollege Biology courses have many more exciting topics that show up a treasure of ideas and knowledge for students who are interested in the subject. Some of them may be intriguing and as such students need expert help from online college Biology tutors who make even the challenges in the subject easy to understand with their custom made solutions and approaches.

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10 Amazing Facts About Plant Cells

Plants are necessary food for animals and human beings. Without plants, earth would have lost one of the main contributors of food for the living beings. Plants have cells which have many amazing facts.


  1. The first thing that is wonderful about plant cells is that they are the only producers of food by self on earth.
  2. Next they have amazing features like chloroplasts, rigid cell wall and vacuole. Their features resemble those of animal cells.
  3. Plants retain a definite shape due to the rigid cell wall. They take in lots of water but the rigid cell wall helps them retain their shape.
  4. The vacuole is the storage place for the waste of plant cell.
  5. Chloroplasts help plants manufacture food through photosynthesis.
  6. Without sun, plants are not able to produce food. With energy derived from sun, plant cell converts carbon- di- oxide and water into carbohydrates and sugar and prepare food.
  7. One   sixth of the energy derived from sun is used by plants and remaining energy goes to human beings and animals in the form of sugar and carbohydrates and forms their food.
  8. Without plant cells and their features, food for plants is impossible.
  9. Plants need sunlight to maintain the growth of plant cells.
  10. Plant cell features like nucleus, membrane and mitochondria are similar to animal cells.

Many plants are very small but they have mini organs which are used for producing food. Without plant kingdom, man might have suffered a heavy loss in food production.

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Balancing Eco System Through Food Webs Like Pond Food Chain

Ecology is an important branch of Biology explaining the various aspects of eco system in the context of the survival of different living organisms and their impact on one another. Food chain or food web is a process in Ecology that explains the sequence of energy consumed by living beings through a chain of production and consumption.

Food chain is an essential aspect of survival on earth. Be it animal, man or a plant, depending upon one another for food is a very common environmental factor. Biologists make many interesting facts about food chains and make us understand how such factors are imperative for balancing the eco system.

Food chain

Without energy, living on earth is impossible and you need to derive energy for your life through one or the other food resource. Plants derive energy from sun and prepare their food. They are eaten by rabbits like small animals which are killed by big animals for their food which in turn are hunted by predators as their prey. So passing of energy among the living organisms is through a food chain and it happens to all terrestrial and aquatic creatures.

Pond food chain

Pond food chain is about the beings in the pond which extract energy through various food resources. The beings in the pond form a food chain to draw energy and survive. For example, it starts with algae like plants deriving energy from sun for preparing their food. Plant is eaten by snails in the pond. Fish roaming about in the pond eats both snail and plant and get energy out of it. Fish is eaten by birds and the chain goes on.

Algae, water lily, Elodea, cattails are some of the plants in pond starting the food chain from there. They provide food for small insects like midge larva, tadpole and wood peck. These insects and fish provide food for birds like tree swallow, great blue herron, and red wing black bird and so on.

food chain

Food chain is an important component in eco system to balance the survival of living organisms. Producers, consumers, abiotic components and decomposers are the natural agents for systematizing eco system and for transmitting energy from one living being to the other. Forest food webs and aquatic ones like pond food chains are invariably part of eco system.

Doing Biology is great work and topics like Ecology are interesting for the scope they offer for exploring environmental factors, their importance and relevance in the biological aspects of the earth and water. Students find them awesome if they have proper training and exposure in these topics. That too, college level courses in biology are daunting for the fact they involve and complex thinking and pretty good diagrams.

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