Polysaccharides are major classes of biomolecules. They are long chains of carbohydrate molecules, composed of several smaller monosaccharides. These complex bio-macromolecules functions as an important source of energy in animal cell and form a structural component of a plant cell. It can be a homopolysaccharide or a heteropolysaccharide depending upon the type of the monosaccharides. Polysaccharides can be a straight chain of monosaccharides known as linear polysaccharides, or it can be branched known as a branched polysaccharide.
Functions of Polysaccharides-
The polysaccharides serve as a structural organization in animals and plants. Other functions of polysaccharides include:
- They store energy in organisms.
- Due to the presence of multiple hydrogen bonds, the water cannot invade the molecules making them hydrophobic.
- They allow for changes in the concentration gradient which influences the uptake of nutrients and water by the cells.
- Many polysaccharides become covalently bonded with lipids and proteins to form glycolipids and glycoproteins. These glycolipids and glycoproteins are used to send messages or signals between and within the cells.
- They provide support to the cells. The cell wall of plants is made up of polysaccharide cellulose, which provides support to the cell wall of the plant. In insects and fungi, chitin plays an important role in providing support to the extracellular matrix around the cells.