What are the Branches of Biochemistry?

Robert Johnston

The branches of biochemistry they are structural biochemistry, bioorganic chemistry, enzymology, metabolic biochemistry, xenobiochemistry, immunology, neurochemistry, chemotaxonomy and chemical ecology.

Biochemistry is the branch of science that explores chemical processes within and related to living organisms.

It is a science developed in the laboratory that includes biology and chemistry. By using chemical knowledge and techniques, biochemists can understand and solve biological problems.

Biochemistry focuses on the processes that occur at the molecular level. It focuses on what is happening inside cells, studying components such as proteins, lipids and organelles.

It also examines how cells communicate with each other, for example during growth or fighting disease..

Biochemists need to understand how the structure of a molecule relates to its function, allowing them to predict how the molecules will interact.

Biochemistry spans a range of scientific disciplines, including genetics, microbiology, forensic medicine, plant science, and medicine..

Due to its breadth, biochemistry is very important and the advances in this field of science in the last 100 years have been astonishing.

Main branches of biochemistry

Due to the great diversity of its approaches, biochemistry has been derived into branches that have specific objects of study. Here are the main branches of biochemistry.

Structural biochemistry

Structural biochemistry is a branch of the life sciences that combines biology, physics, and chemistry to study living organisms and to summarize some mutual principles that all life forms share..

It also refers more generally to biochemistry. Biochemists seek to describe in molecular terms the chemical structures, mechanisms and processes shared by all organisms, providing organizing principles that underlie life in all its various forms..

Bioorganic chemistry

Bioorganic chemistry is a rapidly growing scientific discipline that combines organic chemistry and biochemistry..

While biochemistry aims at understanding biological processes using chemistry, bioorganic chemistry attempts to expand organic-chemical investigations (i.e. structures, synthesis, and kinetics) into biology..

When investigating metalloenzymes and cofactors, bioorganic chemistry overlaps with bioinorganic chemistry. Biophysical organic chemistry is a term used when trying to describe intimate details of molecular recognition by bioorganic chemistry..

Bioorganic chemistry is that branch of life science that deals with the study of biological processes using chemical methods.


Enzymology is the branch of biochemistry that studies enzymes, their kinetics, structure and function, as well as their relationship with each other..

Metabolic biochemistry

It is the branch of biochemistry that studies the generation of metabolic energy in higher organisms with an emphasis on its regulation at the molecular, cellular and organ level..

The chemical concepts and mechanisms of enzymatic catalysis are also emphasized. Includes selected topics in:

  • Carbohydrate, lipid and nitrogen metabolism
  • Complex lipids and biological membranes
  • Hormone signal transduction and others.


Xenobiochemistry studies the metabolic conversion of xenobiotics, especially drugs and environmental pollutants..

Xenobiochemistry explains the causes of the pharmacological and toxicological consequences of the presence of xenobiotics in the living organism.

Simultaneously, xenobiochemistry creates a scientific basis for the qualified activity of pharmacists and bioanalysts in the field of laboratory monitoring of drug levels..


Immunology is a branch of biochemistry that covers the study of the immune systems in all organisms. It was the Russian biologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov who promoted the studies on immunology and received the Nobel Prize in 1908 for his work.

He pointed a rose thorn at a starfish and observed that 24 hours later, cells surrounded the tip.

It was an active response from the body, trying to maintain its integrity. It was Mechnikov who first observed the phenomenon of phagocytosis, in which the body defends itself against a foreign body, and coined the term.

Immunology classifies, measures and contextualizes:

  • Physiological functioning of the immune system in states of both health and disease
  • Malfunctions of the immune system in immune disorders
  • Physical, chemical and physiological characteristics of the components of the immune system in vitro, in situ and in vivo.

Immunology has applications in numerous disciplines of medicine, particularly in the fields of organ transplantation, oncology, virology, bacteriology, parasitology, psychiatry, and dermatology..


Neurochemistry is the branch of biochemistry that studies neurochemicals, including neurotransmitters and other molecules such as psychopharmaceuticals and neuropeptides, that influence the function of neurons..

This field within neuroscience examines how neurochemicals influence the functioning of neurons, synapses, and neural networks..

Neurochemists analyze the biochemistry and molecular biology of organic compounds in the nervous system and their functions in neural processes such as cortical plasticity, neurogenesis, and neural differentiation..


Merriam-Webster defines chemotaxonomy as the method of biological classification based on similarities in the structure of certain compounds between the organisms that are being classified..

Supporters argue that because proteins are more tightly controlled by genes and less subject to natural selection than anatomical features, they are more reliable indicators of genetic relationships..

The most studied compounds are proteins, amino acids, nucleic acids, peptides, among others..

Chemical ecology

Chemical ecology is the study of interactions between organisms and between organisms and their environment, which involve specific molecules or groups of molecules called semiochemicals that function as signals to initiate, modulate, or terminate a variety of biological processes..

Molecules that serve in such roles are typically low molecular mass easily diffusible organic substances that are derived from secondary metabolic pathways, but also include peptides and other natural products..

The ecological chemical processes mediated by semiochemicals include those that are intraspecific (one species) or that are interspecific (that occur between species).

A variety of functional signal subtypes are known, including pheromones, allomones, kairomones, attractants, and repellants..


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