To sustain life, we have to eat food. The nutrients that are present in the food give us the energy to work, run and play. In addition, these nutrients protect us from diseases, heal our wounds, and keep up healthy. Many of the nutrients present in the food are macromolecules that are essential for the build-up of the body. For example, proteins help in the building of muscles in our body. The main source of energy is carbohydrates while nucleic acid carries hereditary information. All living organisms need the macromolecule in their daily diet. But if we are not eating it in a balanced amount it leads to several threatening diseases. In this tutorial, we will learn about macromolecules in depth.

Definition: Macromolecule

Macromolecules are large complex molecules and their diameter ranges from 100-10000 angstroms. They are constituted of a large number of atoms. Macromolecules are also known as polymers. Polymer is acquired from the Greek word poly which means many units. Monomers i.e., small molecular units constitute macromolecules.

Types of Macromolecules

There are four types of macromolecules that are listed below:

  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are constituted of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules mostly arranged in a ring structure. They are further subdivided into monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. Carbohydrates are energy-giving food. The food rich in carbohydrates are rice, wheat, potato, chocolate, bread, etc.

  • Nucleic acids: The most important nucleic acids, have been confirmed by many biologists, are deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). The nucleotide is the basic structural constitution of nucleic acid. Long chains of nucleotides constitute both DNA and RNA. Nucleotides are composed of a sugar molecule that is linked to a phosphate group and nitrogenous base. In nucleotide structure, the nitrogenous base is the crucial information-bearing part. Nitrogen base is attached with sugar at its number 1- carbon position. The nitrogenous base contains pyrimidine or purine base. A nucleotide contains two important pentose sugar molecules namely ribose and deoxyribose. The phosphate group of each nucleotide is attached to the sugar at its number 5 carbon position. Nucleic acid carries hereditary information. The DNA is synthesized into RNA and protein.

  • Proteins: Monomers of amino acids make proteins. They contain amino and carboxylic groups. The amino group constitutes carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulphur, phosphorus, and nitrogen. The protein helps in the building of muscles. The food rich in protein is meat, milk, paneer, pulses, fish, egg, etc.

  • Lipids: Lipids are hydrocarbon molecules. Due to its nonpolar nature, it is insoluble in water. Lipids are energy-rich molecules and provide energy to the body. It also helps in maintaining temperature. Food rich in lipids include oil, butter, cheese, fried food, etc. Lipids are subdivided into simple and complex lipids. Complex lipids are further subdivided into triglycerides, phospholipids, and sterols.

Examples of Macromolecules

The examples of macromolecules are listed below:

  • Synthetic fiber: Rayon, nylon, and spandex constituted of macromolecules. They are manufactured in specific steps. To manufacture spandex fiber the first step is the involvement of monomer reactions to make prepolymer. The next step is known as spinning in which the prepolymers are fed through a cell. The main aim of this is to solidify them so that their thickness be increased. Nylon and rayon are manufactured by the same process.

  • Genetic transfer: Deoxyribonucleic acid is a macromolecule. The nucleic acids (A, T, C, and G) that act as codes for genetic material are made of monomers called nucleotides, which also carry genetic material. Nucleotides are composed of a sugar molecule that is linked to a phosphate group and a nitrogenous base. Nucleic acid carries hereditary information. During meiosis, the DNA split up. As a result, the structure of monomers is not available as it is split up. The monomer's nucleotides were responsible for carrying genetic information.

Importance of Macromolecules

The importance of macromolecule is described below:

  • Provides structural support

  • Acts as source of energy

  • Helps in muscle building

  • Store and carry hereditary information

  • Speeds up biochemical reactions

  • Plays a crucial role in our life

Industrial Applications

Plastics, fibers, and elastomers are used widely in the industry.

  • Elastomers: Elastomers are polymer and elastic in nature. Under pressure, it can be crumbled once it is taken out of pressure it ca retain its unique shape. It is also called a versatile polymer. Elastomers are used in the manufacturing of rubber, run sheets for vehicles, floor mats, handles for cars, hair bands, protection sheets, etc.

  • Fibers: Nylon, rayon, and spandex are the most important fibers that are used in industry widely. Fibers are categorized into two types natural and artificial fibers. Natural fibers are cotton, wool, and silk. Synthetic fibers are man-made and are predominantly macromolecules. This includes nylon, rayon, spandex, and polyester and is used for the manufacturing of garments.

  • Plastics: Plastics are light weighted and durable. They are used in the manufacturing of electrical appliances, PVC, household appliances, automobiles, etc.


Macromolecules are large complex molecules and their diameter ranges from 100-10000 angstroms. They are constituted of a large number of atoms. Macromolecules are also known as polymers. Carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids are the three major types of macromolecules. They play an important role in structural support, physiological process, muscle build-up, carrying of genetic information, etc. Plastics, fibers, and elastomers are used widely in the industry.


Q1. What do you understand by polysaccharides?

Ans: It is one of the types of carbohydrates. Polysaccharides are formed by the repetitive units of either monosaccharides or disaccharides. These units are bonded with each other by glycosidic bonds. Starch, cellulose, and glycogen are examples of polysaccharides.

Q2. What is a triglyceride?

Ans: Out of the three forms of lipids, triglycerides are the main form of lipids. Normally in the diet, approximately 95% of lipids are present in the form of triglycerides. They can be solid and liquid at room temperature.

Q3. What are simple lipids?

Ans: A simple lipid constitutes fatty acids that contain only the group of alcohol. It is insoluble in water but soluble in nonpolar organic solvents like chloroform.

Q4. What is deoxyribonucleic acid?

Ans: Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) carries genetic information. Structurally it is made up of two strands that wind around each other like a twisted ladder forming a double helix DNA.

Q5. What is a sterol?

Ans: Sterols are complex molecules that contain interlinking rings of the carbon atom. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are attached to the side chain. Cholesterol is one of the best-known sterols.

Q6. What are the largest macromolecules?

Ans: Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the largest macromolecule. One gram of DNA can comprise 455 exabytes of data.

Q7. How is a prepolymer different from a monomer?

Ans: Prepolymers are made during the production of engineered textures. They are the fluid type of genuine polymers and can be controlled before they are polymerized, or hardened.

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