Biology as Poetry: Bioenergetics

Bacteriophage Ecology Group

Glucose Oxidation

C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6CO2 + 6H2O + energy

In words, glucose + molecular oxygen gives rise to carbon dioxide, water, and the liberation of energy. Note that glucose serves as a stand-in for a number of organic chemicals that can similarly by "burned". Nevertheless, note the stoichiometry as well as the tendency for such oxidation reactions to liberate both carbon dioxide and water (along with energy).

The carbon dioxide is the oxidized form of carbon while the water is the oxidized form of hydrogen, hence the "oxidation of glucose" which consists of carbon and hydrogen as well as oxygen. The presence of the latter, oxygen, indicates that glucose as a molecule is already more oxidized than the equivalent hydrocarbon.

In organisms, glucose oxidation takes place via catabolic pathways that liberate the glucose-associated energy in relatively small and well-controlled steps, generating NADH, ATP, and, for chemoheterotrophic bacteria that employ electron transport chains, proton motive force as products. These metabolic pathways include, most prominently, glycolysis and the associated cellular respiration.

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