5. Primary vs Secondary Metabolites

Primary Metabolites Definition

  • Primary metabolites are the compounds that are directly involved in the metabolic pathways of an organism necessary for its growth, development, and reproduction.
  • These metabolites are associated with the physiological processes occurring in the organism.
  • Primary metabolites are produced in the organism during the growth phase, as a result of the growth mechanism.
  • The growth phase associated with the production of primary metabolites is termed as ‘trophophase’.
  • The production of primary metabolites is initiated when the nutrients necessary for the body are available in the medium.
  • These are found in most cells throughout the body and are also termed central metabolites.
  • Primary metabolites are crucial for various metabolic activities as some act as a substrate for these processes, while others act as catalysts.
  • Some primary metabolites like amino acids are common throughout the organisms, whereas some are restricted to some cells or some organisms.
  • Even though primary metabolites play an essential role in the growth and development of an individual, these do not have pharmacological actions or effects against other factors.
  • The production of primary metabolites usually occurs at a high rate as these are constantly required for the body. These can also be extracted easily through simple extraction procedures.
  • Primary metabolites are divided into two groups; primary essential metabolites and primary metabolic end products.
  • Primary essential metabolites include compounds like proteins and carbohydrates that make up the structural and physiological organization of the organism. In contrast, primary metabolic end products include products like lactic acid and ethanol that are the end products of various metabolic pathways.
  • Examples of primary metabolites include proteins, enzymes, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, ethanol, lactic acid, butanol, etc.

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