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noun, plural: polysaccharides

(1) Any of a class of carbohydrates formed by repeating units linked together by glycosidic bonds.

(2) A complex carbohydrate composed of a chain of monosaccharides joined together by glocosidic bonds.


Polysaccharides (e.g. cellulose, starch, or glycogen) are characterized by the following chemical properties: (1) not sweet in taste, (2) insoluble in water, (3) do not form crystals when desiccated, (4) compact and not osmotically active inside the cells, (5) can be extracted to form white powder, and (6) general chemical formula of Cx(H2O) y.

Polysaccharides may be a homopolysaccharide or a heteropolysaccharide depending on their monosaccharide components. A homopolysaccharide consists of same types of monosaccharides whereas a heteropolysaccharide is composed of different types of monosaccharides.

Word origin: poly (many) + saccharide (sugar).


Compare: oligosaccharide, monosaccharide, disaccharide

See also: carbohydrate

Related terms: