Biology as Poetry: Chemistry

Bacteriophage Ecology Group

Weak Bonds

Attractive interactions between atoms that, strictly, are neither covalent nor ionic.

Instead these chemical bonds consider of hydrogen bonds, van der Waals interactions, and salt bridges, with hydrophobic exclusion providing some additional weak joining of molecules in biological systems. The importance of these weak bonds is that they represent the interactions between molecules, or portions of molecules, while those molecules are in the fluid rather than solid state.

Biological systems exist at the interface between solids and liquids, possessing ordering equivalent to that of crystaline solids while at the same time achieving the dynamics of a liquid state. The result is substantial sophistication while at the same time an impressive ability to change states, including especially reversibly, in real time. What allows this to occur explicitly are weak bonds between molecules – which are constantly being broken and reformed – that allow their interactions to exist where stability and instability intermingle, that is, well ordered and dynamic at the same time, like a finely tuned machine.

For additional discussion, see [Bioport].

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