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Unraveling Complex Carbohydrates

Image courtesy of Stefan Eberhard, CCRLPhotomicrograph of glucose Carbohydrates are the forgotten cousin of biopolymers. Peruse a standard cell biology text, and they are typically relegated to a few pages in contrast to the nucleic acids and proteins that often make up the bulk of a chapter, or enjoy chapters of their own. The reason for the paucity of carbo coverage in texts is simply that we know less about them than about the other types of macromolecules, says Alan Darvill, director of the

Ricki Lewis

Image courtesy of Stefan Eberhard, CCRL

Photomicrograph of glucose
Carbohydrates are the forgotten cousin of biopolymers. Peruse a standard cell biology text, and they are typically relegated to a few pages in contrast to the nucleic acids and proteins that often make up the bulk of a chapter, or enjoy chapters of their own. The reason for the paucity of carbo coverage in texts is simply that we know less about them than about the other types of macromolecules, says Alan Darvill, director of the University of Georgia's Complex Carbohydrate Research Center (CCRC). "They are harder to study, so there is less information about them," he says.

Founded in 1985, the CCRC brings together the eclectic expertise found in several departments at the Athens, Ga., campus. The 12 research groups include botanists, developmental biologists, microbiologists, and analytical chemists whose tools, such as nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectroscopy, are...

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