A Fives-Based Mnemonic for F16BP (Fructose 1,6-Bisphosphate — a Very Important Molecule in Biology).

β-D-fructose 1,6-bisphosphate, more specifically. Note that it’s “bis” and not “bi”.

You can really impress people just by saying or writing the full decasyllabic name. The way you say it is “beta dee fructose one six bisphosphate.”

Drawing the diagram of the molecule will impress them even more. It is also very satisfying and fun, especially if, like me, you aren’t very good at drawing.

Learning to do both of these feats would immediately put most people into a new intellectual category, and is a way to make chemistry more fun.

Pentasyllables in the names.

First note that “F16BP” has exactly syllables. It’s handy that it works in search engines, and that it also works in lower case.

“β-D-fructose 1,6-bisphosphate” has ten syllables.

“β-D-fructose” has five syllables, and “1,6-bisphosphate” has five syllables.

Fives in the diagram.

Here’s one way to represent the organic molecule, that I found in Wikipedia.

β-D-fructose 1,6-bisphosphate

To reproduce the diagram freehand I use the fanciful resemblance to a fat man (the fructose bit) holding two bunches of toy helium balloons (the two phosphate bits).

I start by drawing the O that is his head, and then the incomplete regular pentagon (a -sided shape) that is his torso, and then the two black triangles that are his arms and the black triangle and OH that is his left leg, and the three bars and the HO that are his right leg, and add a third leg growing out of his left armpit (four bars and an OH) for a total of limbs. I check that the armpit leg is made of bars while the arm and real leg are each solid black triangles, and that “bars are always flanked by solids, and vice versa”. I then add the numbers from one to six (that label the six carbon atoms in the molecule), to complete the fructose bit.

The strings are held by the fat man’s hands (numbered 1 and 6 respectively — that’s what the “1,6-” in the name means), meaning that each of the two phosphates is attached to a carbon atom at position one and six, respectively.

Next I draw the two bunches of balloons, noting that each one is a quincunx (a -dotted shape) with a P (phosphorus atom) at the centre. I find it helps to recall that I can write the phosphate as OPO(that’s supposed to be a subscript three but Medium doesn’t cope well with this sort of thing). This reminds me that it is an O that is bonded to the carbon, and not a P. When drawing the balloons I first draw the O’s roughly above the 1 and 6 points (the hands) without worrying about getting the respective tilts of the strings right, and then recall that the bunches of balloons are tilted at forty-five degrees to his right and his left, and thus at ninety degrees to each other, as if something between them were pushing them apart or they were repelled by each other.

Then I add three oxygen atoms to each phosphate making a pair of cross shapes. Then I make sure that, going clockwise noninclusively from the carbon bound oxygen, it is “double bond, single bond, single bond” with a negative charge on each of the two single bond oxygen atoms.



1.This article contains the diagram of β-D-fructose 1,6-bisphosphate that I used in this article:

2. This YouTube video is a fairly easy intro to IUPAC nomenclature. He’s very clear.

3. This pdf called “Short Summary of IUPAC Nomenclature of Organic Compounds.” is useful for understanding both the name and the diagram of β-D-fructose 1,6-bisphosphate that I used in this article and could be a good next step for the advanced reader, but it’s not easy:

https://www.angelo.edu/faculty/kboudrea/organic/IUPAC_Handout.pdf is a “Short Summary of IUPAC Nomenclature of Organic Compounds.”

My favorite activity is learning new things.