Describe the structure of a phospholipid?

1 year ago


4 Replies




Eino Heidenreich

4 Replies

Annabel Hughes

Phospholipid molecules have 3 main components: 2 hydrophobic fatty acid tails and one hydropphilic phosphate head. These components are joined together by an alcohol or glycerol molecule.

This structure is how they are able to form lipid bilayers which are the key components of a cell membrane!

Ashley Lee

Phospholipid is made up of one glycogen, two fatty acids and one phosphate group. They are held together by ester bonds.

Nadia Labidi

A phospholipid is made up of a head and 2 tails.

The head of a phospholipid contains 2 important structures; a phosphate group (hence the name, PHOSPHolipid!) and a molecule of glycerol. Now, we know where the 'phosph' comes from, but what about the lipid?

The 2 tails of a phospholipid are made up of separate fatty acid chains. Lipids, as you may already know, are the fancy proper way to say 'fats'. So that's where the name phospholipid comes from.

When we draw a phospholipid, we normally draw it as above. We draw a circle to represent the head and two lines to represent the tails. Simple!

However, there is one more super important thing to know about phospholipids. Each part of the phospholipid possesses a different property. The head is hydrophilic, meaning it LOVES water (yay!), and the tail is hydrophobic, meaning it HATES water (scary!). When you start learning about cell membranes you will understand how these properties work together in perfect harmony to form the phospholipid bilayer.

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Phospholipids are composed of a hydrophilic head (made up of phosphate and glycerol molecule), and 2 hydrophobic fatty acid tails (hydrocarbon chains).

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