5. Primary vs Secondary Metabolites

Key differences (Primary Metabolites vs Secondary Metabolites)

Basis for ComparisonPrimary MetabolitesSecondary Metabolites
DefinitionPrimary metabolites are the compounds that are directly involved in the metabolic pathways of an organism necessary for its growth, development, and reproduction.Secondary metabolites are the organic compounds that are produced by various organisms that are not directly involved in the growth, development, or reproduction of the organism but are essential in the ecological and other activities.
Also termedPrimary metabolites are also termed as central metabolites.Secondary metabolites are also termed as specialized metabolites.
Growth phasePrimary metabolites are produced during the growth phase of the organism.Secondary metabolites are produced during the stationary phase of the organism.
This phase of growth is also termed as ‘trophophase’.This phase of growth is also termed as ‘idiophase’.
QuantityPrimary metabolites are produced in large quantities.Secondary metabolites are produced in small quantities.
ExtractionIt is easier to extract primary metabolites.It is difficult to extract secondary metabolites.
SpecificityPrimary metabolites are not species-specific and thus might be identical in some organisms.Secondary metabolites are species-specific and thus are different in different organisms.
Involved inPrimary metabolites are involved in the growth, development, and reproduction of organisms.Secondary metabolites are involved in ecological functions and species interactions.
Structural componentPrimary metabolites might form the molecular structure in organisms.Secondary metabolites are not a part of the molecular structure of the organism
ImportancePrimary metabolites are used in various industries for different purposes.Secondary metabolites are used in various biotechnological procedures for the formation of drugs and other compounds.
Defensive actionPrimary metabolites are not active in the defense mechanism.Secondary metabolites are active against foreign invaders and might be involved as a defense mechanism.
ExamplesExamples of primary metabolites include proteins, enzymes, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, ethanol, lactic acid, butanol, etc.Some examples of secondary metabolites include steroids, essential oils, phenolics, alkaloids, pigments, antibiotics, etc.

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