Enantiomers can exist when there is an asymmetric carbon atom within the molecule, i.e., a carbon that is attached to four different structures. The example illustrated is the amino acid alanine, which occurs as l-alanine (left in the picture) and d-alanine (right). Chemical synthesis in the laboratory usually produces equal amounts of the two enantiomers, known as a racemic mixture. However, in living organisms there is a rigid preference for one over the other.
Related entries enantiomers, bias in terrestrial life
mirror reversal problem
Related category PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY
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