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The role of water in the lives of organisms

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Introduction

The role of water in the lives of organisms Water (Hydrogen Oxide - H2O), is a compound that is found everywhere. It can occur as solid, liquid and gas phases. It forms as much as 2/3 of the Earth's surface and is vital to all varieties of life. It occurs in all living organisms and has a remarkable combination or properties which make it a very useful substance. These properties include high solvent capacity, which enables water to dissolve a wide range or polar substances, high chemical stability, and excellent thermal properties, which make it ideal as a medium for transporting energy in the form of heat in a cooling system in a living organism. Water in fact has the highest specific heat capacity of all known substances, which means it is the best suited liquid for this job. Diagram of a water molecule One of the main roles of water in the lives of organisms is to act as a transport medium. Both inside the organisms themselves, and also outside transporting the materials vital for the survival of the organism. ...read more.

Middle

Not only does water help to carry around useful substances in the plant, it also provides the plant with minerals from the soil. These minerals are dissolved in the water, and absorbed through the plant's roots into the stem where they are distributed to all parts of the plant. Water is sometimes known as a 'universal solvent' because it dissolves more substances than any other solvent. Because of the way atoms are arranged in a water molecule, water is able to form weak hydrogen bonds with other water molecules, and also different substances which contain polar molecules. Diagram showing the weak hydrogen bonds between water and a dissolved substance A plant's main purpose in life is to reproduce. All its energy goes into making seeds, which are then dispersed naturally to allow new plants to grow. The efficiency of this however, depends on the method the plant is designed to use. One plant which uses water as its method of transporting seeds is the palm tree. This tree often grows along side the sea and rivers, and its seeds (the coconut) ...read more.

Conclusion

This provides an insulating layer which keeps the liquid water below at a fairly constant temperature, allowing life to survive even with very cold outside temperatures. Even when there is no ice on the surface, water is very good at holding its heat which helps organisms to survive all year round. There are a group of small animals which use water as their habitat, but do not live in it. They are very small and incredibly light in weight. This combined with the large surface area of their feet allows them to stand on the surface of the water. Water has a layer of stronger bonds across its surface called 'surface tension'. This provides enough strength to support the weight of small animals. Water is important because without it life could not be supported. Water is needed for photosynthesis, so in an atmosphere with no water plants would die out completely. This would reduce the oxygen supply in the air dramatically, causing animals to die. There would also be mass droughts planet wide. On a smaller level, a cell without water would simply cease to function. Normal transport of materials in and out of the cell would not happen, and it would die. Richard Strofton 1 ...read more.

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