Dictionary > Amphiphile

Amphiphile

Definition
noun, plural: amphiphiles
A chemical compound containing both hydrophobic and hydrophilic portions
Supplement
Amphiphile is a chemical compound that is made up of hydrophilic and hydrophobic portions. The hydrophilic portion is water-loving. In contrast, the hydrophobic portion tends to repel water. The hydrophobic portion is a lipophilic group and typically a large hydrocarbon moiety. It is nonpolar and therefore would not dissociate into ions in the presence of water. The hydrophilic portion, in turn, may either be charged or uncharged polar functional group. Examples of amphiphiles are bile salts, phospholipids, soaps, detergents, and surfactants. Phospholipids, in particular, are essential component of biological membranes, such as the plasma membrane. The amphiphilic nature of the phospholipids allows the latter to form a phospholipid bilayer. The polar heads of the phospholipids are found on the exterior whereas the nonpolar tails are on the interior of the bilayer. This structural arrangement of phospholipids in the bilayer of plasma membrane is one of the reasons that the latter is selectively permeable (or semipermeable). It means that not all substances are allowed to enter or leave the cell. Certain substances can relatively move with ease across the phospholipid bilayer whereas others would not be able to unless there are transport or carrier proteins to shuttle them across the phospholipid bilayer of the plasma membrane.
Word origin: Greek amphis (“both”) + philia (“love”)
See also:

Related form(s):

  • amphiphilic (adjective, of or pertaining to an amphiphile)


    You will also like...

    Population Regulation in an Ecosystem
    Population Regulation in an Ecosystem

    With regard to the population size of a species and what factors may affect them, two factors have been defined. They ar..

    Evolution of Life - Ancient Earth
    Evolution of Life – Ancient Earth

    Autotrophs flourished, absorbing carbon and light. Soon after, primitive life forms that could assimilate oxygen thrived..

    New Zealand - Biodiversity fauna
    New Zealand’s Biodiversity

    Find out more about New Zealand's unique biodiversity by exploring a range of different ecosystems and the key role of s..

    Human gastrointestinal tract
    Human Biology – Food and Digestion

    This tutorial recognizes the importance of food as a source of energy that will fuel many biological processes. A good d..

    Wart-like leaf galls on grape leaves
    Plant Cell Defense

    Plants protect themselves by releasing hydrogen peroxide to fight against fungal invasion. Another way is by secreting c..

    Genetic engineering
    Genetic Engineering Advantages & Disadvantages

    This tutorial presents the benefits and the possible adverse eventualities of genetic engineering. Know more about this ..