Biology as Poetry: Chemistry

Bacteriophage Ecology Group

Exchange Reaction

Formation of new chemical bonds in the course of loss of older chemical bonds.

An exchange reaction is a combination of synthesis reaction and decomposition reaction where in a sense both are occurring over the course of the same chemical reaction. Strictly, however, this is the case even with dehydration synthesis and hydrolysis. Dehydration synthesis reactions, that is, can be written as follows:

     A-OH + H-B → A-B + H-OH

Similarly for hydrolysis:

    A-B + H-OH → A-OH + H-B

That is, more generally:

    A-B + X-Y → A-X + Y-B

Why should we care? Basically, understanding the concept of exchange reactions allows one to appreciate that many reactions that seemingly are clearly synthesis reactions or clearly decomposition reactions in reality can be a little of both. That, in turn, allows for a subtly deeper understanding of metabolism.

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