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The Biological Importance of Water.

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The Biological Importance of Water. Water is important for many reasons, least of all for life on this planet. It has unique properties such as its behaviour with ice and its capacity to retain heat which make it essential for life. These unique properties are mainly due to the atomic structure of water and its polarity. This is examined below: Hydrogen Key: = Oxygen nucleus = Oxygen electron Oxygen = Hydrogen nucleus = Hydrogen electron As shown, the hydrogen atoms of a water molecule are to one side of the larger oxygen atom. Because of the number of electrons carried by each atom in the outer shell, the oxygen atom ends up with more electrons to itself, and as these are concentrated on one side of the atom, this creates a negative charge/influence on that side of the atom. ...read more.


With oceans, however, the case is different - seawater has a high salt concentration allowing the water to remain liquid below 0oC. Solvent Properties: Water is extremely important in living organisms because many biochemical reactions take place in watery fluids all around our bodies and those of other organisms. Water acts as a solvent in this case, for both ions and organic molecules. Its polarity is important in holding ions in solution. Cations attract the negative charge of the water's oxygen atom, and so become surrounded by a shell of water molecules, and conversely anions attract the positively influenced hydrogen part of a water molecule. ...read more.


This property of water is also useful for insects such as pond-skaters. These can 'skate' across ponds or streams since their weight is not enough to break the surface tension and because the insect has a 'waxy cuticle' which prevents it from getting wet. Another important property of water is its slowness to gain or lose heat. This is essential for animals which need a constant body temperature, such as humans. The large mass of water inside us is at our ideal body temperature, and needs to stay roughly at that temperature. Therefore this property is very useful especially when we experience a sudden change in temperature outside, as our bodies will not lose all their heat immediately. These are the main properties and functions of water, though there are other minor ones. ...read more.

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