Biological Benefits of Water

Water in Organisms

  • Organisms usually contain 60% to 90% water.
  • Lowest- Plant Seed (20%)
  • Highest- Jellyfish (99%)
  • Water helps all organisms with metabolism, and specifically helps plants with photosynthesis and support.

Water as a Solvent

  • Water contains 1 covalently bonded oxygen atom and 2 hydrogen atoms.
  • Water molecule is polar, because electrons are not equally shared.
  • Due to its polarity water can ionize substances easily, making it a good solvent.
  • Water is known as ‘The Universal Solvent’.

Water s a Means of Transport

  • Many different substances, such as blood and sap, are transported by water.
  • Sap and blood contain high amounts of water making them good solvents.
  • Being good solvents allows them to dissolve the substances they are transporting.

Water as a Reactant

  • Water, being a good solvent, allows many reactions to occur.
  • Water is used in photosynthesis to make NADPH2, and ultimately sugar.
  • These reactions release oxygen gas, which is vital to human life.
  • Without water in photosynthesis, organisms would not be able to obtain energy, and life as we know it would be impossible.

Water as Means of Support

  • When water enters the cell by osmosis, the water fills up the cell so much that the cell prevents another water intake.
  • This makes the cell turgid, or stiff.
  • The cell must be turgid to support the plant’s leaves.
  • Also, organisms that live in the water have weaker skeletons than organisms that live on land because of the water’s buoyancy effect.

Water as a Lubricant

  • When bones meet at a joint, they need a fluid between the bones to prevent scraping against each other.
  • That fluid is called a synovial fluid, which is made mainly of water.
  • Many internal organs have fluid around them to keep them protected. Examples:

            Brain: Cerebro-spinal fluid

            Lungs: Pleural Fluid

            Eyes: Mix of fluids.

Water in Sexual Reproduction

  • During fertilization, the sperm, must get to, the ovum in order to make the zygote, which makes a new individual.
  • In organisms adapted for internal fertilization, the sperm is transported in semen which contains mostly water.
  • In organisms using external sperm can be transported in the water habitat.

Water and Constant Temperature

  • Water has a very high specific heat. (4200J/kg0C)
  • Much energy is required to change the temperature of water by a single degree.
  • That provides a perfect habitat for marine mammals, because of the non-changing temperature.
  • Another way water helps mammals maintain their body temperature is by sweating.
  • Mammals sweat when their body temperature is too high.
  • Sweat is made of mostly water.
  • When the water evaporates from the organism it creates a cooling effect, therefore lowering the organisms body temperature.

Water as a Habitat

  • Water can provide a good protective layer for organisms in it.
  • Water provides buoyancy and support for organisms in the water.
  • Dissolved oxygen can be plentiful in water, for use in respiration.
  • Fertilization is easier in water.
  • Water helps maintain a constant temperature.
  • Water keeps out UV rays from the sun.

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