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Reactivity in Chemistry
Mechanisms of Glycolysis
GL1. Introduction to Glycolysis: Energy
Glycolysis is a biochemical pathway in which glucose is
consumed and ATP is produced. This pathway is an example of catabolism, in
which larger molecules are broken down in the cell to make smaller ones.
The opposite kind of pathway is anabolism, in which larger molecules are
synthesized from smaller ones in the cell.
From the biologist’s perspective, catabolism is
associated with the breakdown of larger molecules to release energy. For
example, in grade school science, you may have learned that most organisms
derive their energy from the breakdown of carbohydrates. You may have seen
the process of respiration expressed through the following equation of reaction:
C6H12O6(s) + 6 O2(g)
→ 6 CO2g + 6 H2O(l) + energy
idea gives rise to the slightly misleading paradigm that energy is stored in chemical
bonds. The idea goes that, for example, when the single sugar molecule represented
by the formula, C6H12O6 , is broken down to make six carbon dioxide molecules, the
energy from all of those broken bonds is released for the benefit of the
You may also have learned about another important
energy-storage molecule, ATP. Like the breakdown of sugar, the breakdown
of ATP is used to power other processes in the cell. That process might be
expressed in the following expression:
ATP(aq) + H2O(l) →
ADP(aq) + Pi (aq) + energy
Once again, this can be considered a breaking-down
process, in which an ATP molecule is split into a smaller ADP molecule and an
From the chemist’s perspective, it is wrong to suggest
that energy is stored in chemical bonds. Instead, energy is released when
bonds are formed. This chemical perspective is more than an idea; it
represents physical reality. It can be demonstrated in a
number of ways that energy is released when bonds are made, and energy must be
used up in order to break bonds; apparently, this situation is the opposite of
the biological viewpoint.
Some authors have suggested that this apparent
disagreement is something like a difference of perspective. Think of an
observer standing on the shore of the ocean, watching a ship sail away.
From the observer’s viewpoint, the ship eventually sinks below the ocean.
After a while its hull is no longer visible; only its masts remain, and finally
they, too, slip down and are gone. To a passenger on the ship, however,
the ship is still sailing along on the surface of the ocean. Biologists
and chemists think about bonding differently because they are looking at it from
a different viewpoint.
Biologists say that energy is stored in chemical bonds
because thinking about things that way is useful to them. It is useful to
think of catabolic processes, such as the breakdown of sugars, as
energy-releasing. It is useful to think of anabolic processes, such as
photosynthesis or the synthesis of complex natural products, as
Biologists are looking at things purely from the point of
view of the biomolecule. Either it is breaking down into smaller pieces
(its bonds are breaking), releasing energy, or else it is getting built up into
something bigger (its bonds are being made), costing energy.
In a very loose sense, it is as if the reaction of
carbohydrate breakdown is pared down to:
→ 6 CO2g + energy
And the reaction of ATP breakdown is abbreviated to:
ADP(aq) + Pi (aq) + energy
In other words, part of the reaction is ignored.
That viewpoint allows a focus on the biomolecule, but it neglects some important
things. For example, in the breakdown of carbohydrates, it isn’t the C-C
bond breaking of the carbohydrates that is the source of energy. It is the
formation of strong, new O-H and C=O bonds, and other, more subtle changes, that
release the energy.
As always, we get more insight into a reaction by looking
at the structural formulae in the equation, rather than condensed formulae.
This way, we can actually see what bonds are being made and broken.
Figure GL1.1. An equation of
reaction for respiration, or the combustion of glucose, with structures.
The case of ATP is a little different. The bonds
made and broken are pretty much the same in the breakdown of ATP; loosely, we
just trade in one P-O bond for another. This case is more complicated, but the
simplest explanation is that ATP cleavage relieves repulsion between the
multiple negative charges in the ATP molecule. Energy decreases in the
resulting molecules, and the rest of the energy that used to be in the reactants
Figure GL1.2. An equation of reaction for the hydrolysis
of ATP, with structures.
In the reverse, when ADP is phosphorylated to make ATP,
the system goes up in energy (the system just means everything in the reaction;
it is everything on one side of the arrow or the other). That energy,
however, is not really stored in any chemical bonds. It is distributed
throughout the system, for example, in the motions of all of those atoms.
The bonds may stretch, getting longer and shorter, but in addition the groups on
the ends of the bonds can spin, and the molecules can tumble and zip around
through space. There are lots of ways to distribute that energy throughout
that entire collection of atoms; it isn’t forced to sit in that one bond that
was newly formed between two atoms.
So, although the idea of energy being stored in chemical
bonds may be very useful in the biology classroom, it is only going to get in
your way in the chemistry classroom. You need to be able to take off your
biologist’s hat and put on your chemist’s lab coat when you need it.
Our economy is driven largely by the consumption of
fossil fuels, such as heptane. Given the following reaction for the
breakdown of heptane:
+ 11 O2 →
7 CO2 + 8 H2O
Use the table of bond strengths to determine how much
energy is released when a mol of heptane is consumed.
|Average Bond Strength (kcal/mol)||120||80||100||190||110|
a) Start by determining the energy needed to break bonds.
b) Determine the energy released when new bonds are made.
c) Determine the overall energy change.
Use the table of bond strengths to determine how much
energy is released when a mol of octane is consumed.
+ 12.5 O2 →
8 CO2 + 9 H2O
Given an approximate C-O bond strength of 85 kcal/mol,
use the table of bond strengths to determine how much energy is released when a
mol of glucose is consumed.
Provide a mechanism for the hydrolysis of ATP to ADP.
Suggest a possible role for magnesium ion in the
hydrolysis of ATP.
See the section on
metabolic pathways at
This site is written and maintained by Chris P. Schaller, Ph.D., College of Saint Benedict / Saint John’s University.
These materials are
available for educational use.
Send corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation
under Grant No. 1043566.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this
material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of
the National Science Foundation.
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Extra Information About the energy released when sugar molecules are broken down is stored in That You May Find Interested
If the information we provide above is not enough, you may find more below here.
Glycolysis – Employees Csbsju – College of Saint Benedict
How Cells Obtain Energy from Food – NCBI – NIH
Cellular respiration | Britannica
ATP | Learn Science at Scitable – Nature
Cell Energy, Cell Functions | Learn Science at Scitable – Nature
Frequently Asked Questions About the energy released when sugar molecules are broken down is stored in
If you have questions that need to be answered about the topic the energy released when sugar molecules are broken down is stored in, then this section may help you solve it.
Where does the energy generated by the disintegration of sugar molecules get stored?
The energy stored in glucose is transferred to ATP during this process, which can be summarized as glucose + oxygen? carbon dioxide + water. Energy is stored in the bonds between the phosphate groups (PO4-) of the ATP molecule.
What kind of energy does the sugar molecule release?
Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is a chemical energy the cell can use. It is the molecule that gives energy for your cells to perform work, like moving your muscles as you walk down the street. Specifically, during cellular respiration, the energy stored in glucose is transferred to ATP (Figure below).
What is the name of the procedure that releases energy stored in sugar?
The stages of cellular respiration, which include glycolysis, pyruvate oxidation, the citric acid or Krebs cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation, are a metabolic pathway that breaks down glucose and generates ATP.
What molecule is released as a result of the disintegration of energy storage molecules?
ATP is the energy storage molecule that is formed in the metabolic processes in the cells. The breakdown of energy molecules aids in the production of ATP in the system. ATP is produced to store energy and is broken down in order to use that energy for cellular processes.
Where is the energy contained in sugar kept?
When the body doesn’t need to use glucose for energy, it stores it in the liver and muscles as glycogen, which is a compound made up of many linked glucose molecules and is the primary fuel for our cells.
Where is the energy in glucose stored?
Answer and explanation: Glucose is a very important sugar because it is produced during the chemical reaction of photosynthesis and serves as a storehouse for the energy of the sun.
Question: Where is the energy in glucose stored?
The chemical energy of the bonds in glucose is released and stored in the chemical bonds of ATP during an exergonic process, which provides energy to cells.
What is the name of the procedure for storing glucose?
Your body produces glycogen from glucose through a process known as glycogenesis when it doesn’t immediately need the glucose from the food you eat for energy. Glycogen is primarily stored in your muscles and liver for later use.
Where does ATP’s energy come from?
The bond between the final and middle phosphate groups in an ATP molecule is where most of the energy is kept.
What kind of energy is stored where?
Energy can be stored in a variety of ways, including as chemical energy in food, potential energy in batteries, wind energy, and stored as air in the form of air pressure.
Where is the ATP kept?
The ability of ATP to be stored in large, dense core vesicles alongside neurotransmitters is a common trait.
Where is ATP both released and stored?
Therefore, when a cell needs energy to perform work, ATP loses its third phosphate group, releasing energy from the bond that was previously stored from cellular respiration that the cell can use to perform work.
ATP is it released or kept?
Animals store the energy obtained from the breakdown of food as ATP, and plants capture and store the energy they derive from light during photosynthesis in ATP molecules. ATP can be used to store energy for future reactions or be withdrawn to pay for reactions when energy is required by the cell.
Where is ATP kept in bulk?
Only about 100g of ATP and about 120g of phosphocreatine are thought to be stored in the body, primarily in the muscle cells.
ADP or ATP is stored?
ADP (adenosine diphosphate) only has two phosphate groups, whereas ATP (adenosine triphosphate) has three phosphate groups with high energy bonds located between each group.