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Essentials of Water in Supporting Biological Systems

Introduction

Water is a colorless and odorless liquid that forms the main component of the Earth’s streams, lakes, and oceans. It forms about 71% of the Earth’s total mass; thus, it is an essential commodity in the biosphere. Being a solvent, it can assist in supporting life in both plants and animals. Water or H20 is formed by combining two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom; water molecules are held together by covalent bonds (Westall & Brack, 2018). Water is important in supporting the biological system in various ways; the properties of water help in understanding its importance.

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Properties of Water in Supporting Life

Water, different from any other solid-liquid, is denser in its liquid form than as solid. This is why ice floats; when the temperature changes, water molecules freeze, forming a crystalline structure. The separation of water from ice helps in supporting marine life, especially during the winter seasons. For example, the higher density of water in liquid form than solid is important as it keeps ponds, lakes, and oceans from freezing and allows life to continue thriving under the icy surface. Generally, water is denser than blood, wine, and mercury; however, most of these liquids contain a higher percentage of water.

Water has a unique boiling point; despite the smaller molecular weight, it has an exceedingly high boiling point (100oC). This is because more energy is needed to break the strong covalent bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms (Machado & Oliveira, 2019). It has a freezing point of (0oC); both boiling and freezing points enable the water molecules to be slow to environmental changes, which can affect the oceans or lakes. For example, the higher boiling and lower freezing points help in sustaining enabling environment for the organisms living in the water. Other liquids have fewer boiling points for example; milk has a boiling point of 95oC.

Water is the only natural substance which can exist in three physical states depending on the temperature that occurs naturally on Earth. This ability helps in the water cycle, which is an important aspect in various stages of every living organism. For example, vaporization occurs naturally, leading to cooling, thus helping in regulating body temperature (Nazarko, 2018). It would be difficult for the different living organisms to survive if water occurred only in a liquid form. Thousand of species would become homeless; the occurrence of water in three states has both economic and social impacts on the livelihood of every organism. Other liquids cannot exist in three physical states, for example, milk can only exist in solid and liquid forms. The biological system requires water in different forms, the ability to change water form makes it special in promoting life than any other liquid.

Water is a solvent; it has the capability of dissolving many substances. Both animals and plants depend on water for the transportation of important nutrients for growth and development. For example, water is used to transport nutrients from the ground to the top of trees, promoting even the distribution of nutrients. The cohesive and adhesive forces within the water molecule help in ensuring the effective transportation of nutrients in trees, which is against the law of gravity. Solvents are important in regulating body temperature and supporting life; body cells cannot survive without water (Verones et al., 2018). The adhesion property enables water molecules to become attracted to other polar molecules and stick to them; this aspect is important in xylem transportation. These forces only appear only in water, other liquids lack this special property. For example, blood cannot work against the force of gravity unless there is a supporting organ such as the heart. The availability of forces within water molecules is a unique characteristic that makes water superior in supporting biological systems to any other liquid.

The chemical reaction of water helps in building and breaking down essential components of the cell. For example, the photosynthesis process in plants requires water to create sugar for all life forms. Large molecules in cells are made through chemical processes that require water (Westall & Brack, 2018). Consequently, reversing chemical reactions that break down molecules requires water. Therefore water is an important component in the body’s chemical reaction; animals and plants cannot survive without the chemical composition of water. Compared to other liquids such as mercury and blood, water has a special feature of chemical reaction in any state, thus making it the best liquid for supporting biological systems.

Conclusion

Water is an essential component for plants and animals to survive comfortably. Water density, boiling and freezing points, the chemical aspects, the ability to exist in three physical states, and being a universal solvent are major properties making the water very important in lives. It forms a greater percentage of Earth’s mass and is considered the most functional component globally. Water is the source of life; without water, animals and plants would have no life. Compared to other type’s liquids such as mercury, blood, wine, and acetone: water has a unique character of supporting life.

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References

Machado, C., & Oliveira, R. R. (2019). Water for life: Natural resource and basic human rights to sustainable development. Revista de Direito da Cidade, 11(4), 302-321.

Nazarko, L. (2018). Hydration: Essential to life. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, 12(1), 16-22.

Westall, F., & Brack, A. (2018). The importance of water for life. Space Science Reviews, 214(2), 1-23.

Verones, F., Pfister, S., Van Zelm, R., & Hellweg, S. (2017). Biodiversity impacts from water consumption on a global scale for use in life cycle assessment. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 22(8), 1247-1256.

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