The Fitness of the Aqueous Environment for Living Organisms

Organisms have effectively adapted to their aqueous environment and have evolved means of exploiting the unusual properties of water. The high specific heat of water (the heat energy required to raise the temperature of 1 g of water by 1 °C) is useful to cells and or-

ganisms because it allows water to act as a "heat buffer," keeping the temperature of an organism relatively constant as the temperature of the surroundings fluctuates and as heat is generated as a byproduct of metabolism. Furthermore, some vertebrates exploit the high heat of vaporization of water (Table 2-1) by using (thus losing) excess body heat to evaporate sweat. The high degree of internal cohesion of liquid water, due to hydrogen bonding, is exploited by plants as a means of transporting dissolved nutrients from the roots to the leaves during the process of transpiration. Even the density of ice, lower than that of liquid water, has important biological consequences in the life cycles of aquatic organisms. Ponds freeze from the top down, and the layer of ice at the top insulates the water below from frigid air, preventing the pond (and the organisms in it) from freezing solid. Most fundamental to all living organisms is the fact that many physical and biological properties of cell macromolecules, particularly the proteins and nucleic acids, derive from their interactions with water molecules of the surrounding medium. The influence of water on the course of biological evolution has been profound and determinative. If life forms have evolved elsewhere in the universe, they are unlikely to resemble those of Earth unless their extraterrestrial origin is also a place in which plentiful liquid water is available.

Aqueous environments support countless species. Soft corals, sponges, bryozoans, and algae compete for space on this reef substrate off the Philippine Islands.
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Responses

  • olavi
    How the aqueous environment affect the living organism?
    1 year ago
  • temesgen
    How water support aqeous environment?
    10 months ago

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