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Biochemistry

The Chemistry of Spider Venom

Spiders are the most numerous venomous animals on the planet; the number of species predicted to be in existence, 150,000, is thought to be greater than the numbers of all other venomous creatures combined. Almost all spiders, with only a few exceptions, produce venom, which serves the primary purpose of immobilising their prey. However, the content […]

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Biochemistry

The Chemical Structure of DNA

Today’s post crosses over into the realm of biochemistry, with a look at the chemical structure of DNA, and its role in creating proteins in our cells. Of course, it’s not just in humans that DNA is found – it’s present in the cells of every multicellular life form on Earth. This graphic provides an […]

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Biochemistry

The Chemistry of Slug Pellets

Slugs and snails are common garden pests, and gardeners often turn to slug pellets in order to fend them off. What exactly are those blue pellets made of, though, and can they pose a risk to other animals as well as molluscs? This graphic examines the compounds used, and their potential undesired effects, as well as […]

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Biochemistry Organic Chemistry

A Brief Guide to the Twenty Common Amino Acids

The proteins that make up living organisms are huge molecules, but they’re composed of tinier building blocks, known as amino acids. There are over 500 amino acids found in nature, yet, of these, the human genetic code only directly codes for 20. Every protein in your body is made up of some linked combination of these amino […]

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Biochemistry

The Chemical Compositions of Insect Venoms

Insect venoms are complicated. Really complicated. You could be forgiven for thinking that it must be a relatively simple company of chemicals that makes up the painful sensation of a bee or wasp sting, but in fact a hugely complex mixture of all sorts of compounds – proteins, peptides, enzymes, and other smaller molecules – go […]