What are a few properties of water, and how do these properties affect the function of living organisms?

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trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Water is the universal solvent and in the body, many substances dissolve in water. The body is about 70% water. Water is in contact with cell membranes and protein surfaces that are hydrophillic--meaning they are attracted to, or can be dissolved by water. Water is a good solvent because it is a polar molecule. Sugars and salts can dissolve in water.The major component of blood plasma is water. The process of hydrolysis occurs during digestion when large molecules of food are broken down into smaller and simpler molecules, with the addition of water and using enzymes to catalyze the reaction. In plants, capillary action occurs due to the property of water being able to rise into a narrow tube against the pull of gravity. There is an attraction between the polar water molecules and the tube. Also, water molecules adhere to other water molecules. Water sticks to the walls of the tube and rises up. This allows water to be absorbed by the xylem tubes inside the vascular bundles in the veins of plants. This is one reason water moves up into a plant's roots, against the force of gravity. The property of water that in its solid state, it is less dense than liquid water, allows ice to float above the liquid water of a lake. This property allows life in a frozen lake to remain alive as it freezes near the surface, while the more dense liquid water below the ice,  allows fish and other organisms to remain alive during winter months. The liquid water is above the freezing point, so life can survive below the ice. These are a few unique properties of water.

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