Bacteria and Plants: Master Chemists

Bacteria and Plants are the master chemists. They synthesize mind boggling variety of macromolecules based compounds like sugars, proteins, lipids and enzymes using simple chemicals present in the medium and soil as the starting materials.

Some of them take mineral carbon in the form of CO2 and water and partition it into products of great use e.g. proteins, sugars, lipids and hydrocarbons. As opposed to the their counterparts in the laboratory which can create optimum conditions like high temperature and pressure required for the reactions, they do the same synthesis under the prevailing conditions using enzymes which they synthesize in the first place.

Then there are others which like humans do the reverse. They take organic carbon-which was synthesized by their brethren- and mineralize it into CO2 to liberate the stored solar energy for their living.

Big molecules are generally exhibit stereo-isomerism due to which they possess handedness labeled as L-levo and D-Dextro and deviate the light passing through solutions from its path towards left or right in equal amounts.

When the chemists synthesize such molecules in the lab, they always end up with 50:50 mixtures with no effect on the light. They have to resort to the time consuming and costly separations to get pure D or L forms. But in nature, these micro scientists always make only one pure isomer form either L or D!

There are ants which take up only L form isomers present in the sugar. How they come to know about D and L, only they or the God knows. These days stereo-selective medicine is being manufactured because sometimes back the mixture medicine caused great problems in USA.

Were the bacteria and plants eligible for the Nobel prize in Chemistry, they could have wrapped up all of them!!

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