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Antimycin A: Physical Properties, Solubility & Molecular Weight

Instructor: Korry Barnes

Korry has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and teaches college chemistry courses.

Antimycin A is a compound made by bacteria that is very hazardous to humans. This lesson will talk about its structure, molecular weight, physical properties, and solubility.

Complex Construction

If you were asked to identify something complex that you'd built at some point in your life, what would it be? Perhaps a difficult model airplane that required a lot of time and detail? Maybe taking individual Lego building blocks and making a miniature city with sky scrapers, taxis, and restaurants? Most of us can appreciate the time and effort it takes to construct complex objects or projects.

Well, nature is capable of constructing complexity as well. Even the tiniest of organisms can take simple atoms and turn them into structurally amazing compounds.

Let's visit a specific organic compound known as Antimycin A by exploring its structure/molecular weight, its physical properties, and finally its solubility. Let's start building!

What is Antimycin A?

First, a little background information. A secondary metabolite is an organic compound that's made by an organism but isn't directly involved in the its growth or reproductive cycles. It's a compound that maybe helps survival in some way, provides a form of chemical protection, or perhaps only contributes to the organism's aesthetics.

Antimycin A is a secondary metabolite that's produced by a genus of bacteria called Streptomyces, common bacteria that are able to grow on many surfaces including potatoes.

Streptomyces bacteria growing on the surface of a potato
potato

Antimycin A was discovered back in 1945 and is actually classified as an extremely hazardous substance in the United States. Any organizations that store, produce, or use Antimycin A are required to adhere to strict guidelines and reporting procedures regarding the compound.

Why would the bacteria go to the trouble of making a secondary metabolite if it isn't directly involved in growth, you ask? Well, keep in mind that bacteria are small and have to survive in their environments, so often they will make compounds like Antimycin A as a chemical defense strategy. After all, they can't just run away from things that may harm them.

Structure and Molecular Weight of Antimycin A

Structurally, Antimycin A contains a large ring system that has several other groups of atoms attached to the ring itself. The ring is composed of nine total atoms with two oxygens and the rest carbon.


Antimycin A has a large ring system of oxygen and carbon with several other groups of atoms attached
Antimycin A


The molecular weight of Antimycin A is calculated by taking the mass of each individual element, multiplying it by how many of those elements are present in the compound, then totaling all of the masses together.

Antimycin A contains 28 carbon atoms, 40 hydrogen atoms, 2 nitrogen atoms, and 9 oxygen atoms. If we take the respective molar masses of each of these elements and multiply them by how many of those atoms are present, we get a molar mass of 548.63 g/mol.

Solubility of Antimycin A

Now that we're a bit more familiar with Antimycin A, let's transition into talking about its solubility. When we refer to solubility, we are talking about the various solvents in which a compound will dissolve into or form a solution with. Antimycin A is actually soluble in a wide range of organic solvents including things like ethanol, benzene, acetone, chloroform, and dimethylsulfoxide.

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