Unit 1

AP Biology
Unit 1:
The Chemistry of Life
Unit 1 Understanding:
Water is the basis for life and plays important roles in the synthesis of macromolecules, cellular and organismal
homeostasis, and in ecological relationships.
The synthesis and decomposition of macromolecules is regulated by enzymes and provides the energy and raw
materials for living processes (growth, development, reproduction, and response to stimuli). The laws of thermodynamics
govern the biochemical processes that provide energy to living systems.
Essential/Probing Questions:
How do the unique chemical and physical properties of water make life on Earth possible?
What is the role of carbon in the molecular diversity of life?
How do cells synthesize and break down macromolecules? (connection to law of conservation of matter?)
How do the structures of biologically important molecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids) account for
their functions?
How do the laws of thermodynamics regulate the biochemical processes that provide energy to living systems?
Why is the regulation of the rate of chemical reactions by enzymes essential to life?
Why does the specificity of an enzyme depend on its structure?
How is the activity of an enzyme regulated? Why would a living system (cell or organism) need to regulate enzyme
Areas of Focus:
Organic Molecules in Organisms
Free Energy Changes
Essential elements of life
Structure and Behavior of Atoms
o subatomic particles
o atomic number and weight
o isotopes
o energy levels
o electron orbitals
o electron configuration and chemical properties
Chemical bonds and molecules
o covalent bonds
o molecular shapes
o nonpolar and polar covalent bonds
o ionic bonds
o hydrogen bonds
o Van der Waals interactions
o hydrophobic interactions
Chemical reactions and equilibrium
Water molecules and hydrogen bonding
Properties of water
o cohesiveness
o high specific heat
o high heat of vaporization
o freezing and expansion
o versatile solvent
Aqueous solutions
o solute concentration
o acid, bases, pH and buffers
C. Gay Revised 6/4/2014
Steamboat Springs High School
AP Biology
 Foundations of organic chemistry
 Versatility of carbon in molecular architecture
 Variation in carbon skeletons
o isomers
 Functional groups
o hydroxyl groups
o carbonyl groups
o carboxyl groups
o amino groups
o sulfhydral groups
o phosphate groups
 Polymers
o polymers and molecular diversity
o making and breaking polymers
 Carbohydrates
o monosaccharides
o disaccharides
o polysaccharides
 Lipids
o fats
o phospholipids
o steroids
 Proteins
o amino acids
o polypeptide chains
o determination of protein conformation
o levels of protein structure
 Nucleic acids
o nucleotides
o polynucleotides
o the double helix
 Energy principles
o forms of energy
o energy transformations
o laws of thermodynamics
 Chemical energy
o heat of reaction
o spontaneous reactions
o free energy
o exergonic and endergonic reactions
o free energy and equilibrium
 Energy for cellular work
o structure and hydrolysis of ATP
o how ATP performs work
o regeneration of ATP
 Enzymes
o enzymes and activation energy
o specificity of enzymes
o catalytic cycle of enzymes
o factors affecting enzyme activity
 Control of metabolism
o feedback inhibition
o structural order and metabolism
Measure the effects of changes of temperature, pH, enzyme concentration, and substrate concentration on reaction rates of an
enzyme-catalyzed reaction in a controlled experiment
Analyze empirical data to explain how environmental factors affect the rate of enzyme-catalyzed reactions
C. Gay Revised 6/4/2014
Steamboat Springs High School