The Biological Importance Of Water. Essay

2014 words - 8 pages

The Biological Importance of WaterWater is a simple molecule, made of hydrogen atoms and oxygen atoms in the ratio of 2:1, yet it is fundamental to life. In active living cells, two-thirds, or often more, of the area is occupied by water, and two-thirds of the globe is covered in water. Water is therefore extremely abundant, and in biological terms it has great importance both inside cells, and externally, for example as a habitat. Water is the most abundant component of any organism. Humans are 60% water, and most organisms are 60-90% water. The water is found mainly in the protoplasm, and here it plays vital roles in many functions, for example in metabolism in all organisms, and photosynthesis and support in plants.Water's importance can be explained referring to its unusual physical and chemical properties. It is the only substance which can be found naturally in all three states - solid (ice), liquid and gas (water vapour). This due to the molecule being a polar molecule and so is able to form hydrogen bond between the molecules. The hydrogen atom has a slightly positive charge ,making it the positive pole and the oxygen atom has a slightly negative charge making it the negative pole. A bond can then form between the positive pole of one water molecule and the negative pole of another. This is called a hydrogen bond and is the strongest of intermolecular forces and a lot of these bonds form in liquid water, If these bonds did not exist, its boiling point would be in the region of -120oC, rather than the actual value of 100oC. Water is also very good at ionising substances due to its structure, and is therefore a good solvent.Many different polar substances dissolve in water because of its polarity. Ions such as sodium, potassium, and chloride can dissolve in it as well as sugars, amino acids, oxygen, carbon dioxide and water-soluble vitamins (B-complex and C). However, it does not dissolve non-polar substances, for example lipids, or the lipid-soluble vitamins (A,D,E and K).Often in living organisms, substances must be solution, and water is the solventwhich makes this a possibility. For example, plants can only obtain mineral salts in solution, and human digestion will only dissolve soluble foods, so large starchmolecules must be broken down in soluble sugars, such as glucose, which is made possible by the addition of water. This process is called hydrolysis. The crucial reactions of metabolism take place in the protoplasm with the materials in solution. Waste products can also be removed in solution, for example in urine. Gas exchange requires a moist surface, since gas exchange takes place in solution. In mammals, the alveoli in the lungs are moist with water, to allow gas exchange, and many plants have moist surfaces in their leaves (the mesophyll cells) for gas exchange. Many organisms living in water spend much or all of their time under the surface. They require oxygen gas to respire, and as water is such a good solvent, the required...

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