I'm having trouble understanding the difference between "Polysaccharide" and "Macromolecule".

I know that polysaccharides are made of chains of monosaccharides. In addition, I know that macromolecules are made of monomers.

But what is the difference?


A macromolecule is a class of biomolecules that are made of monomers. These include polysaccharides (i.e. sugars) polypeptides (i.e. proteins) nucleic acids (like DNA and RNA) and lipids (fats ans phospholipids).

A polysaccharide is one type of macromolecule made up of monosaccharides like glucose and fructose. An example of a polysaccharide is starch or cellulose.

  • $\begingroup$ So they can both make up each other? $\endgroup$ – intboolstring Nov 9 '15 at 2:34
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    $\begingroup$ @intboolstring Well a polysaccharide is a macromolecule while not all macromolecules are polysaccharide. Just like how squares are rectangles but not rectangles are squares. $\endgroup$ – TanMath Nov 9 '15 at 2:43
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    $\begingroup$ @intboolstring macromolecules is a class of molecules in which polysaccharides are included. $\endgroup$ – TanMath Nov 9 '15 at 2:44

A polysaccharide is a long chain sugar, formed by the polymerisation of many smaller sugar molecules (monomeric units which are the monosaccharides) They have a general formula of Cx(H2O)y where x is usually a large number between 200 and 2500. For example, starch, a long chain polymer of glucose.

Defined by wikipedia:

A macromolecule is a very large molecule commonly created by polymerization of smaller subunits (monomers). They are typically composed of thousands or more atoms. The most common macromolecules in biochemistry are biopolymers (nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates and polyphenols) and large non-polymeric molecules (such as lipids and macrocycles) An example of a macromolecule is DNA, which has deoxyribose sugar, phosphate groups and many nitrogenous bases.

So, to sum up, polysaccharides are macromolecules, but macromolecules may not all be polysaccharaides

More info


  • $\begingroup$ When you say "polysaccharides may be macromolecules," do you mean they can make up macromolecules? $\endgroup$ – intboolstring Nov 9 '15 at 2:38
  • $\begingroup$ No, polysaccharides may be classified as macromolecules. That means that starch can be called a macromolecule as well as a polysaccharide. $\endgroup$ – Malhar Khushu Nov 9 '15 at 2:39

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