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Chemical Biomarkers in Aquatic Ecosystems$
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Thomas S. Bianchi and Elizabeth A. Canuel

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691134147

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691134147.001.0001

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Carbohydrates: Neutral and Minor Sugars

Carbohydrates: Neutral and Minor Sugars

(p.79) 5. Carbohydrates: Neutral and Minor Sugars
Chemical Biomarkers in Aquatic Ecosystems

Thomas S. Bianchi

Elizabeth A. Canuel

Princeton University Press

This chapter covers carbohydrates, the most abundant class of biopolymers on Earth and significant components of water column particulate organic matter and dissolved organic matter in aquatic environments. Carbohydrates are important structural and storage molecules and are critical in the metabolism of terrestrial and aquatic organisms. Carbohydrates can be further divided into monosaccharides (simple sugars), disaccharides (two covalently linked monosaccharides), oligosaccharides (a few covalently linked monosaccharides), and polysaccharides (polymers made up of several mono- and disaccharide units). In phytoplankton, carbohydrates serve as important reservoirs of energy, structural support, and cellular signaling components. Carbohydrates make up approximately 20 to 40% of the cellular biomass in phytoplankton and 75% of the weight of vascular plants. Minor sugars, such as acidic sugars, amino sugars, and O-methyl sugars, tend to be more source-specific than major sugars and can potentially provide further information on the biogeochemical cycling of carbohydrates.

Keywords:   carbohydrates, particulate organic matter, metabolism, monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, polysaccharides

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