3.2 Lipids

Lipids are a diverse group of compounds that are united by a common feature. Lipids are hydrophobic (“water-fearing”), or insoluble in water. Lipids perform many different functions in a cell. Cells store energy for long-term use in the form of lipids called fats. Lipids also provide insulation from the environment for plants and animals. For example, they help keep aquatic birds and mammals dry because of their water-repelling nature. Lipids are also the building blocks of many hormones and are an important constituent of the plasma membrane. Lipids include fats, oils, waxes, phospholipids, and steroids.

picture of an otter
Figure 3: Hydrophobic lipids in the fur of aquatic mammals, such as this river otter, protect them from the elements. (credit: Ken Bosma)

References

Unless otherwise noted, images on this page are licensed under CC-BY 4.0 by OpenStax.

OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. May 27, 2016 http://cnx.org/contents/s8Hh0oOc@9.10:QhGQhr4x@6/Biological-Molecules

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3.2 Lipids by Lisa Bartee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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