Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. A sub-discipline of both chemistry and biology, biochemistry may be divided into three fields: structural biology, enzymology and metabolism. Over the last decades of the 20th century, biochemistry has become successful at explaining living processes through these three disciplines. Almost all areas of the life sciences are being uncovered and developed through biochemical methodology and research. Biochemistry focuses on understanding the chemical basis which allows biological molecules to give rise to the processes that occur within living cells and between cells, in turn relating greatly to the understanding of tissues and organs, as well as organism structure and function. Biochemistry is closely related to molecular biology, which is the study of the molecular mechanisms of biological phenomena.
Much of biochemistry deals with the structures, bonding, functions, and interactions of biological macromolecules, such as proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids. They provide the structure of cells and perform many of the functions associated with life. The chemistry of the cell also depends upon the reactions of small molecules and ions. These can be inorganic (for example, water and metal ions) or organic (for example, the amino acids, which are used to synthesize proteins). The mechanisms used by cells to harness energy from their environment via chemical reactions are known as metabolism. The findings of biochemistry are applied primarily in medicine, nutrition and agriculture. In medicine, biochemists investigate the causes and cures of diseases. Nutrition studies how to maintain health and wellness and also the effects of nutritional deficiencies. In agriculture, biochemists investigate soil and fertilizers. Improving crop cultivation, crop storage, and pest control are also goals.