Metabolites – Class 12 | Chapter – 9 | Biology Short Notes Series PDF

Metabolites: Biomolecules are the fundamental building blocks of all living things. They work together to promote various biological processes that are required for life. They differ in structure and size. Hydrogen and oxygen are the two most abundant elements in biomolecules.

The term metabolites are usually used for small molecules. The various functions of metabolites include; fuel, structure, signalling, catalytic activity, defence and interactions with other organisms.

They are produced by plants, humans and microbes.

  • Metabolites are intermediate end products of metabolism.
  • Primary metabolites are essential for the proper growth of microorganisms.
  • Secondary metabolites are formed near the stationary phase of growth and are not involved in growth, reproduction and development.
  • The metabolites can be used in industries to develop vaccines, antibiotics, isolate chemicals for organic synthesis and to obtain amino acids.

Types of Metabolites

  • Primary Metabolites

  • Secondary Metabolites

Primary Metabolites

These are the chemical compounds produced during the growth and development, processes. They are also involved in the primary metabolic processes of respiration and photosynthesis. The primary metabolites are formed in the growth phase. They maintain the physiological functions of the body and are known as central metabolites. They are the intermediate products of anabolic metabolism, which are used by the cells for the formation of essential macromolecules.

Amino acids, vitamins, organic acids, are some of the primary metabolites produced industrially. Alcohol is the major primary metabolite produced on a large scale, industrially.

Secondary Metabolites

These compounds are produced by the organisms that are not required for primary metabolic processes. However, they can be important ecologically or otherwise. Secondary metabolites are considered to be the end products of primary metabolites because they are derived by the pathways in which the primary metabolites involve.

For eg., antibiotics, toxins, pheromones, enzyme inhibitors, etc. Streptomycetes and related actinomycetes are the sources of novel secondary metabolites.

Differences between Primary and Secondary Metabolites

Primary Metabolites Secondary Metabolites
Required for growth and maintenance of cellular function. Involved in ecological functions.
Occurs at the growth phase. Occurs at the stationary phase.
Produced in large amounts and easy to extract. Produced in small amounts and difficult to extract.
Same in every species. Different in every species.
Perform physiological functions in the body. Derivatives of primary metabolites.
Eg., carbohydrates, vitamins, ethanol, lactic acid. Eg., Phenolics, steroids, antibiotics, pigments.


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By Team Learning Mantras