Biology as Poetry: Chemistry

Bacteriophage Ecology Group


Description of an atom's affinity for electrons.

The greater an atom's electronegativity, the greater its affinity for electrons. The chemical bonding between atoms with high affinity for electrons to atoms with low affinity for electrons results in either polar covalent bonds or ionic bonds, with greater differentials in electronegativity giving rise to the latter.

The difference between the electronegativity associated with oxygen or nitrogen atoms and that associated with hydrogen atoms results in an important category of polar covalent bonds that give rise to what is known as hydrogen bonding. Hydrogen bonds, in turn, are a category weak interactions that are crucially important to the functioning of numerous biologically important molecules and structures, ranging from proteins to base pairing with the double helix to the existence of lipid bilayers.

For additional discussion, see [Bioport].

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