Their extreme reduction in form and loss of sexuality may be correlated with the saprophytic habit, the proteids and other organic material required for the growth and reproduction being appropriated ready synthesized, the plant having entirely lost the power of forming them for itself, as evidenced by the absence of chlorophyll.
They are mainly carbohydrates such as starch and sugar, proteids in the form of globulins or albumoses, and in many cases fats and oils, while certain other bodies of similar nutritive value are less widely distributed.
It is not certain either whether the action of the chlorophyll apparatus is confined to the manufacture of carbohydrates or whether it is concerned, and if so how far, with the construction of proteids also.
Proteid Formation.We have seen that it has been suggested that the chlorophyll apparatus may perhaps be concerned in the manufacture of proteids as well as of carbohydrates.
The fate of these inorganiccompounds has not been certainly traced, but they give rise later on to the presence in the plant of various amino acid amides, such as leucin, glycin, asparagin, &c. That these are stages on the way to proteids has been inferred from the fact that when proteids are split up by various means, and especially by the digestive secretions, these nitrogen-containing acids are among the products which result.
While we know little of the processes of proteid-construction, we are almost completely in the dark also as to what are the particular proteids which are first constructed.
Opinions are conflicting also as to the conditions, under which proteids are formed.
The proteolvtic enzymes, or those which digest proteids, are usually divided into two groups, one which breaks down ordinary proteids into diffusible bodies, known as peptones, which are themselves proteid in character.
It is probable that most, if not all, the metabolic changes which take place in a cell, such as the transformation of starch, proteids, sugar, cellulose; and the decomposition -of numerous other organic substances which would otherwise require a high temperature or powerful reagents is also due to their activity.
Typical animals are holozoic, that is, they obtain their food by eating the tissues of other animals and plants: they take their food substances in the organized forms of proteids, fats and carbohydrates.
Fats doubtless originate by the " cleavage " of the synthetically formed proteids, or from carbohydrates.
The source of the carbon of organic tissues is carbonic acid; that of the nitrogen in the proteids is the nitrates, nitrites and salts of ammonia dissolved in sea-water; the material of the shells or other skeletons is the silica, phosphate and calcium of the salts of sea-water (and, in rare cases, the salts of strontium).
They are sometimes called the histogenetic bodies or proteids, because they are essential to the building up of the animal organism.
Already we have proceeded far in our knowledge of the decomposition products, and certain simple proteids have been synthesized.
This list is not exhaustive; other products are given in Gustav Mann, Chemistry of the Proteids (1906), to which reference should be made for a complete account of this class of compounds.
(3) Glyco-proteids, mucins, mucoids, helico-proteid.
Kossel) they give rise to important cell constituents - haemoglobin, nucleo-proteids, &c. " Thymus histone " occurs in the thymus gland; globin occurs in combination as haemoglobin; other histones have been extracted from the red blood corpuscles of the goose and the testes of fishes and other animals.
" Nucleo-proteids," constituents of the cell-nucleus, are combinations of albumins and nucleic acid; they always contain iron.
Nucleic acid is at present of unknown constitution; decomposition products are: phosphoric acid, uracil or 2.6-dioxy-pyrimidin,1 cytosin or 2-oxy-6-amino-pyrimidin, thymin (nucleosin) or 2.6-dioxy-5-methyl pyrimidin hypoxanthin 1 or 6-oxypurin, xanthin or 2.6-dioxypurin, adenine or 6 amino-purin, guanine or 2amino-6-oxypurin, pentoses (l-xylose), laevulinic acid, ammonia, etc. The nucleic acids vary with the source of the proteids, there being considerable differences in chemical composition.
They are dextrorotatory, and the specific rotation is numerically greater than that of albumin; hence the proteids are, in general, dextrorotatory.
" Glyco-proteids " differ from nucleo-proteids in containing a carbohydrate radical, which is liberated only by boiling with mineral acids or alkalies.
The " phospho-glyco-proteids " resemble the mucins and mucoids in containing a carbohydrate residue, but differ in containing phosphorus.
The watery fluid in which the globules are suspended holds certain proteids, carbohydrates and a small proportion of salts in solution.
The creosote and other products from the smoke no doubt act antiseptically and prevent to a large extent the subsequent putrefaction of the proteids retained by the coagulated rubber.
The globules in the latex, however, consist more probably of a distinct liquid substance which readily changes into the solid caoutchouc. The coagulation of the latex often originates with the " curding " of the proteids present, and this alteration in the proteid leads to the solidification of the globules into caoutchouc. The latter, however, is probably a distinct effect.
The watery liquid known as rubber milk or latex is an emulsion consisting chiefly of a weak watery solution of proteids, carbohydrates and salts holding the liquid globules in suspension.
The proportion and nature of the proteids or albuminous materials varies considerably in different latices.
The proteids should be as far as possible removed during the preparation of the rubber, as these substances are chiefly responsible for the objectionable smell and colour of " native " rubbers, and their presence leads to subsequent change in the commercial material.
The fatty matter, however, it must be borne in mind, is the expression of dissimilation of the actual substance of the proteids of the tissues, not of the splitting up of proteids or other carbonaceous nourishment supplied to them.
The steps in the breaking down of the highly complex nitrogenous proteid compounds contained in the humus of the soil, or applied to the latter by the farmer in the form of dung and organic refuse generally, are many and varied; most frequently the insoluble proteids are changed by various kinds of putrefactive bacteria into soluble proteids (peptones, &c.), these into simpler amido-bodies, and these again sooner or later into compounds of ammonia.
It contains albuminous bodies in solution, and is in fact a pure solution of two or more poisonous proteids, which are the active agents, with a small quantity of an organic acid or colouring matter.
This product is largely derived from the nuclei of the leucocytes, which contain large quantities of the nucleo-proteids, of which uric acid is a decomposition product.
(c X 600;) al X 1500, above.) (From Fischer's Vorlesungen uber Bakterien.) into the higher plants as sulphates, built up into proteids, decomposed by putrefactive bacteria and yielding SH 2 which the sulphur bacteria oxidize; the resulting sulphur is then again oxidized to SO 3 and again combined with calcium to gypsum, the cycle being thus complete.
Research was thus directed towards ascertaining the nature of the toxic bodies in such a fluid, and Brieger and Fraenkel (1890) found that they were proteids, to which they gave the name " toxalbumins."
Though subsequent researches have on the whole confirmed these results, it is still a matter of dispute whether these proteids are the true toxins or merely contain the toxic bodies precipitated along with them.
To mention examples, blood serum solidified at a suitable temperature is a highly suitable medium, and various media are made with extract of meat as a basis, with the addition of gelatine or agar as solidifying agents and of non-coagulable proteids (commercial " pep tone ") to make up for proteids lost by coagulation in the preparation.
The general result of such research has been to show that the toxic bodies are, like proteids, precipitable by alcohol and various salts; they are soluble in water, are somewhat easily dialysable, and are relatively unstable both to light and heat.
But this has not been proved, and hitherto no enzyme has been separated from a pathogenic bacterium capable of forming, by digestive or other action, the toxic bodies from proteids outside the body.
The ammonia may be oxidized to nitrites and nitrates, and then pass into the higher plants and be worked up into proteids, and so be handed on to animals, eventually to be broken down by bacterial action again to ammonia; or the nitrates may be degraded to nitrites and even to free nitrogen or ammonia, which escapes.
Hydrates, such as starches and sugars; fats; proteids, such as meat and eggs; salts; and last, but not least, water.
An entirely opposite dietary is that in which butcher's meat is completely excluded and proteids reduced to a minimum, as advocated by Dr Haig.
Invisible to the microscope, but rendered visible by reagents, are glycogen, Mucor, Ascomycetes, yeast, &c. In addition to these cell-contents we have good indirect evidence of the existence of large series of other bodies, such as proteids, carbohydrates, organic acids, alkaloids, enzymes, &c. These must not be confounded with the numerous substances obtained by chemical analysis of masses of the fungus, as there is often no proof of the manner of occurrence of such bodies, though we may conclude with a good show of probability that some of them also exist preformed in the living cell.