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Water has a great number of roles in living organisms, this is largely
to do with the structure and covalent bonding in a single water
molecule, and between water molecules. Around 75% of the earth is
covered in water, and it is reffered to as the most important
Its chemical symbol is: H2O
In a water molecule there are two bonding pairs and two non-bonding
pairs of electrons. These four pairs of electrons repel one another,
forming a tetrahedral pattern. Because they repel they are as far from
each other as possible.
The two electrons in each of the oxygen-hydrogen bond are not shared
equally. They are more strongly attracted to the oxygen. The bond is
polar, it has a 'negative part' (the oxygen) and a 'positive part'
(the hydrogen).The hydrogen bond is very weak, about ten times weaker
than a single covalent bond.
Water has importance inside cells and outside. This may be because of
its chemical and physical properties; it can be found naturally in all
three of its states. At room temperature water is in a liquid state,
It boils at 100ºC and freezes at 0ºC.
However its molecules are bonded together by hydrogen bonds, this
raises it's melting and boiling points, e.g. its boiling point would
be -120ºC rather than 100ºC.
Water can also be used as a solvent because of it polarity. Many
things will dissolve in it, and more reactions take place while in
solution with water. Often in organisms substances must be in solution
and water is the solvent.
Plants can only obtain mineral salts in solution so require water to
live. Also human digestion will only dissolve soluble foods, meaning
large starch molecules must be broken down into soluble sugars. Also
many organisms living in water spend most of their lives underwater,
yet they require oxygen to live and respire, and as water is such a
good solvent the required oxygen gas is dissolved in the water and the
organisms can use it.
Water is the most abundant component in any organism, proving its
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water. Around 60% of the human body consists of water.
It plays roles in the metabolism of all cells and for plants in
photosynthesis. It is a main reactant in the photosynthesis reaction:
CO2 + H2O àààà C6H12O6 + H20
In all cells, water is used for hydrolysis, which is the breakdown of
a substance by water, like polysaccharides to monosaccharides, forming
a glycosidic bond. Water is used as a medium for chemical reactions,
due to its properties as a solvent; the diffusion and osmosis of
substances, e.g. gaseous exchange, which need to be moist as the
exchange takes place in solution, therefore there is water in the
lungs or in mesophyll cells in the 'spongy' part of leaf cells.
It is also used on a much larger scale for transport. Blood plasma is
mostly water, and is used to transport food, hormones, waste products
like ammonia and urea and also oxygen in haemoglobin, similarly in
plants, sap is used to transport food and other substances.
These substances all easily dissolve in water and they can be
transported. Water is also used during fertilization when sperm must
reach the ovum, the sperm is transported in semen, which is mostly
Water is also in they eye in the aqueous and vitreous humour of the
eye help maintain its shape. Amniotic fluid protects and supports a
fetus when it is growing aswell.
Water can also be used for support. As plant cells have cell walls as
well as cell membranes, when the plant cell becomes full of water
(osmosis) it wont burst but the cell wall exerts a force equal to the
osmotic force, the cell becomes turgid and this is important in the
support of leaves and prevents wilting, as too little water makes the
cells become flaccid which causes the plant to wilt.
Temperature of water remains constant (due it to its high specific
heat capacity) so few temperature controls are needed. So a high
temperature is required to heat a small amount due to the overall
strong bonds between molecules. Water has a high latent heat of
vapourisation, which is the energy required to change a certain amount
of of water in liquid form, into a gas, as water vapour. Water is used
in perspiration to help regulate body temperature as it uses the heat
from the body to vapourise the sweat taking away the heat and cooling