What is the Difference Between Aldopentose and Ketopentose

Monosaccharides are the simplest of sugars. They are sweet and water-soluble and are the basic unit of carbohydrates. Monosaccharides are the building blocks for more complex carbohydrates, such as disaccharides and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides could be divided into two groups: aldoses and ketoses. Aldopentoses and ketopentoses are two types of monosaccharides.

What is the difference between aldopentose and ketopentose? Aldopentose contains an aldehyde group, while ketopentose contains a ketone group.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Aldopentose 
      – Definition, Features 
2. What is Ketopentose
      – Definition, Features
3. Similarities Between Aldopentose and Ketopentose
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Aldopentose and Ketopentose
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Aldopentose and Ketopentose
      – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Aldopentose, Ketopentose

Difference Between Aldopentose and Ketopentose - Comparison Summary

What is Aldopentose

Aldopentoses are a group of monosaccharides belonging to the group pentoses. Pentoses have 5 carbon atoms. Aldopentoses also have aldehyde groups attached to the molecule. An aldehyde group is a specific arrangement of atoms that includes a double-bonded oxygen and a hydrogen atom. Due to the presence of multiple hydroxyl groups (OH) bonded to the carbon chain, aldopentoses have several chiral centers (carbons with four different substituents). This creates the possibility for eight stereoisomers (mirror image molecules) of aldopentoses. These isomers are categorized as D or L depending on the spatial arrangement of a specific hydroxyl group on the third carbon atom.


The aldehyde group in aldopentoses can undergo various reactions as it is a functional group. It can undergo oxidation, forming a carboxylic acid (COOH). Aldopentoses can be reduced to alditols (polyalcohols) by gaining hydrogen atoms at the C1 position. The hydroxyl groups can react with other sugars to form glycosidic bonds, the linkage that creates disaccharides and polysaccharides.

Aldopentoses readily undergo cyclization, where the C1 aldehyde group reacts with a hydroxyl group on another carbon within the molecule. This forms a cyclic structure with a hemiacetal or acetal functional group. Some of the most common examples of aldopentoses include ribose, deoxyribose, arabinose, and xylose.

What are Ketopentoses

Keytopentoses are a type of monosaccharide. Unlike aldopentoses, ketopentoses have a functional group called ketones in the molecule. Usually, this functional group is located on the second carbon atom. Ketopentoses are five carbon chains. Due to the placement of the ketone group, they have fewer chiral centers compared to aldopentoses.  Ketopentoses are less reactive than aldopentoses.  However, they participate in reactions such as oxidation, reduction, and glycosidic bond formation. They oxidize to form carboxylic acids and reduce to form polyols.


Ketopentoses are less abundant than aldopentoses. Some examples of ketopentoses include ribulose, sedoheptulose bisphosphate, and sialic acids.

Similarities Between Aldopentose and Ketopentose

  • Both aldopentoses and ketopentoses are monosaccharides.
  • They have the same basic structure, the five-carbon ring (pentose).
  • Both contain multiple hydroxyl groups (OH) attached to the carbon chain.
  • Both types of pentoses exhibit chirality due to the presence of multiple hydroxyl groups bonded to different carbons.
  • They can have multiple stereoisomers.

Difference Between Aldopentose and Ketopentose


  • Aldopentoses are a type of monosaccharide that have an aldehyde group attached to the first carbon atom of the five-carbon chain, while ketopentoses are a type of monosaccharide that have a ketone group, usually on the second carbon atom of the carbon chain.


  • The aldehyde group in aldopentoses allows for a more linear form, while the ketone group in ketopentoses creates a slight bend.

Functional Group

  • Due to the location of their functional group, aldopentoses have more chiral centers (typically three) compared to ketopentoses (usually two for 2-ketopentoses).


  • The aldehyde group in aldopentoses is more reactive than the internal ketone group in ketopentoses.


Aldopentoses and ketopentoses are both simple sugars with five carbon atoms. Aldopentoses have an aldehyde group on the first carbon, while ketopentoses have a ketone group on the second carbon. This is the main difference between aldopentose and ketopentose.

FAQ: Aldopentose and Ketopentose

1. What are the examples of aldopentoses?

Ribose, arabinose, and xylose are examples of aldopentoses. Ribose is a main component of RNA and ATP. Arabinose is a type of sugar found in plant cell walls. Xylose is another type of sugar found in plant cell walls and hemicellulose.

2. What are the types of aldopentoses?

There is only one type of aldopentose: a monosaccharide with an aldehyde group and five carbon atoms. However, due to the arrangement of the hydroxyl groups around the chiral centers, there are eight stereoisomers of aldopentoses.

3. What is an example of a ketopentose?

An example of ketopentose is ribulose. It’s a monosaccharide with a five-carbon chain and a ketone functional group. Ribulose plays an important role in the Calvin cycle, where it plays a key role in carbon fixation during photosynthesis.

4. What is the difference between aldose and ketose?

Aldoses are monosaccharides containing aldehyde groups at the end of the carbon chain. Ketoses, on the other hand, are monosaccharides containing ketone groups in the carbon chain.


1. “Aldopentose.” Science Direct. 
2. “Ketopentose.” Science Direct. 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Aldopentose” By Dissolution – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Ribulose” By Хорев Сергей – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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