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I am very new to biology, currently just a student. Recently I learned of the electron transport chain used in cellular respiration. This got me thinking. At the end of the chain, the electrons are joined with hydrogen and oxygen forming water.

It seems that all cellular activity (that I've learned about) is very careful to bind any electrons to some byproduct molecule after using them. Thus I get the impression that free electrons in a cell are dangerous. I asked my teacher about it, but he wasn't sure. So now I am dying to know, what would be the consequences of allowing a free electron to float about a cell?

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    $\begingroup$ It doesn't make much sense to think about 'free' electrons in biological systems, but you might want to read about oxidative stress $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Feb 2 '18 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ To understand biochemistry you need to understand some chemistry, and if you don’t you should learn some before posting such naive questions to this list. As any book will tell you, the electron transport chain is a series of oxidation/reduction reactions that are intermediate in an overall oxidation reaction, e.g. of NADH by oxygen. Chemically, oxidation of a compound is the removal of electrons from the compound which is oxidised, by and to the oxidising agent, which is reduced. The purpose of the electron transport chain is to utilize the energy released. Now delete your question please. $\endgroup$ – David Feb 3 '18 at 10:48
  • $\begingroup$ @xusr — This is a schoolboy or undergraduate who is clearly unaware that oxidation involves transfer of electrons. Bryan Krause wants him to read about oxidative stress. You want him to read about paramagnetism. Shouldn‘t you help him to walk first? Even this section from Berg et al. would probably be too much for him. $\endgroup$ – David Feb 3 '18 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ @xusr — If I have ever abbreviated ‘electron transport chain’ as ETC (and I didn‘t here) it is only because of the word limit of comments. However, this is what the poster asked about. One of the problems with this list is that some of us would like to answer questions at a sophisticated level, but posters are often asking basic questions because they lack chemistry or haven‘t read the chapter in their text properly. If you would like to answer a question on four electron reductions, I'll post one (if I‘m not required to do too much research first ;-) ) $\endgroup$ – David Feb 4 '18 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ @David My comment was directed towards someone who expressed an interest in biology and at least some classroom familiarity with concepts like the electron transport chain. Different people learn differently. This might be someone who was completely turned off by chemistry and won't find the motivation to study it until they find an avenue of interest. This asker has shown quite some insight and free thinking, and they are coming here for some support. I understand you are attempting to do some quality control here, but please mind the impacts of your words. Now delete your comments please. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Feb 16 '18 at 0:04

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