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Difference Between Hydrolysis and Dehydration Synthesis

Hydrolysis vs Dehydration Synthesis

Biosynthesis is a very important process in all living organisms. Also known as biogenesis, it is a chemical process with several steps leading to the production of amino and fatty acids and natural products needed for the metabolism of living organisms.

Two chemical processes that play significant roles in biosynthesis are hydrolysis and dehydration synthesis. While both are involved in the separation and joining of molecules to form compounds, one process is the exact opposite of the other.

Hydrolysis is a chemical process wherein molecules are split into two by adding a molecule of water. This causes a fragment of the parent molecule to gain a hydrogen ion from the water molecule. The other fragment gets hydroxyl. It is the process of breaking down large organic compounds into smaller units. When food is broken down into nutrients during digestion, hydrolysis is involved.

Sometimes water can have no effect, and for hydrolysis to occur strong acids must be used. They act as bases or catalysts to speed up the chemical reaction. The hydrolysis of ester is an example.

Saponification is an example of ester hydrolysis. In this process, a fat or triglyceride is mixed with sodium hydroxide, which is the base, and glycerol is formed. The fatty acids that react with the base are then converted to salt which are called soaps.

Dehydration synthesis, on the other hand, is the opposite of hydrolysis. It occurs when two molecules join together to form water such as bonding oxygen with hydrogen which produces water. It is a chemical reaction wherein molecules are built up through losing water molecules. When monomers join together to form polymers, a condensation reaction occurs causing them to lose water molecules. One of the monomers loses oxygen and the other loses hydrogen. When they come together, their molecules join together and form water. Dehydration synthesis is taking out water to build something up.

Both hydrolysis and dehydration synthesis are important processes in plants and animals. Hydrolysis is essential in energy metabolism and storage. Energy is very important in the process of biosynthesis in all living organisms.

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is a special storage molecule, has to undergo hydrolysis in order for biosynthetic reactions to occur. It is produced during the catalytic action of enzymes which also allows hydrolysis of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.


1.Hydrolysis is the chemical process wherein a molecule is split into two parts by adding water while dehydration synthesis is the chemical process wherein two molecules are joined together to form water.
2.Hydrolysis is the process of breaking down a large organic compound into smaller units while dehydration synthesis is the process of joining together smaller units to form a larger compound.
3.Both chemical processes involve the separation and joining of compounds to form other compounds, but hydrolysis is the opposite process of dehydration synthesis.
4.Hydrolysis is involved in digestion which breaks food down into nutrients while dehydration synthesis is involved in the formation of compounds which are essential for biosynthesis.

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