CIE A Level Biology (9700) 2019-2021

Revision Notes

12.1.3 Aerobic Respiration: Role of NAD & FAD

The Role of NAD & FAD

  • Coenzymes NAD and FAD play a critical role in aerobic respiration
  • When hydrogen atoms become available at different points during respiration NAD and FAD accept these hydrogen atoms
    • A hydrogen atom consists of a hydrogen ion and an electron
  • When the coenzymes gain a hydrogen they are ‘reduced’
    • OIL RIG: Oxidation Is Loss, Reduction Is Gain
  • They transfer the hydrogen atoms (hydrogen ions and electrons) from the different stages of respiration to the electron transport chain on the inner mitochondrial membrane, the site where hydrogens are removed from the coenzymes
  • When the hydrogen atoms are removed the coenzymes are ‘oxidised’
  • Hydrogen ions and electrons are important in the electron transport chain at the end of respiration as they play a role in the synthesis of ATP
    • Electrons from reduced NAD (NADH) and reduced FAD (FADH2) are given to the electron transport chain
    • Hydrogen ions from reduced NAD (NADH) and reduced FAD (FADH2) are released when the electrons are lost
    • The electron transport chain drives the movement of these hydrogen ions (protons) across the inner mitochondrial membrane into the mitochondrial matrix, creating a proton gradient (more hydrogen ions in the matrix)
    • Movement of hydrogen ions down proton gradient, back into the intermembrane space, gives the energy required for ATP synthesis

Sources of reduced NAD & FAD

  • A certain amount of reduced NAD and FAD is produced during the aerobic respiration of a single glucose molecule
  • Reduced NAD:
    • 2 x 1 = 2 from Glycolysis
    • 2 x 1 = 2 from the Link Reaction
    • 2 x 3 = 6 from the Krebs cycle
  • Reduced FAD:
    • 2 x 1 = 2 from the Krebs cycle

Exam Tip

Note at all stages there is a doubling (2x) of reduced NAD and FAD. This is because one glucose molecule is split in two in glycolysis and so these reactions occur twice per single molecule of glucose.

Author: Lára

Lára graduated from Oxford University in Biological Sciences and has now been a science tutor working in the UK for several years. Lára has a particular interest in the area of infectious disease and epidemiology, and enjoys creating original educational materials that develop confidence and facilitate learning.

Join Save My Exams

Download all our Revision Notes as PDFs

Try a Free Sample of our revision notes as a printable PDF.

Join Now
Go to Top