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Describe the properties of water and it's significance to living processes.

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Introduction

Describe the properties of water and it's significance to living processes. Water typically forms 70 to 95% of the mass of a eukaryotic cell. Although it is a simple molecule, water has the ideal properties to support life. A water molecule consists of one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms. Each hydrogen atom shares electrons with the oxygen to form covalent bonds, but the electrons are not shared equally. Oxygen has greater electronegativity so has a greater pull on the electron causing the electrons to move away slightly from the hydrogen atoms. Therefore the water molecule has slightly positive and slightly negative regions, which makes it a dipolar molecule The small charges on water molecules cause attraction between them. These forces of attraction are called hydrogen bonding, which gives water its unique properties. The hydrogen bonding makes water molecules difficult to separate. ...read more.

Middle

Water is unusual because the solid form, ice, is less dense than it's liquid form. Below 4�C the density of water starts to decrease. This is beneficial for aquatic life since ice will form at the water surface, insulating the water below and allowing life to survive. Water is a liquid at room temperature and so provides a liquid environment inside cells and aquatic environments for organisms to live in. Water also forms a skin at its surface because it has a high surface tension called cohesion. This is beneficial for certain aquatic animals, such as pond skaters, which can move around on the surface of water. It also aids capillarity, which is the way in which water moves through xylem in plants. Water has a low viscosity so water molecules can flow and slide easily over each other and through narrow vessels in both animals and plants. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, it is very difficult to compress which can be beneficial to certain organisms. Water is an important structural agent, acting as a 'skeleton' in worms and turgid plants. It provides strength and support as well as helping to form the shape. Including photosynthesis, water also takes part in many chemical reactions. It is a raw material for photosynthesis and it also takes part in the digestion of substances such as proteins and lipids by hydrolysis reactions. Most organic substances in cells appear in their hydrated form. If the water was to be removed, their chemical and physical properties would be affected. Water is essential to life for many reasons, some of which have been discussed. Sometimes, however, there is an advantage to living tissue to become dehydrated. Dehydration in reproductive structures such as pollen and seeds ensures that they can survive periods of water scarcity. Overall water plays a very significant role in life processes in most organisms. Zaki Rafiq-Khatana ...read more.

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