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Cellobiose (Molecule of the Month for December 1996)

Complex Carbohydrates



Complex Carbohydrates are made up of two or more simple sugars linked together. The following carbohydrates are disaccharides. Disaccharides are compounds that contain a bond between carbon(1) of one sugar and a hydroxyl group at any position on the other sugar.

Cellobiose, the disaccharide obtained by partial hydrolysis of cellulose, consists of two D-glucopyranoses joined by a 1,4',-beta-glycoside bond. Both maltose and cellobiose are reducing sugars because the anomeric carbons on the right-hand sugar are part of a hemiacetal.

Despite the similarities of their structures, cellobiose and maltose are dramatically different biologically. Cellobiose cannot be digested by humans and cannot be fermented by yeast. Maltose, however, is digested without difficulty and is fermented readily.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)

Picture of Cellobiose

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Cellobiose structure
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Picture of Cellobiose



Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for December 1996 )