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Biological Functions of Substances

The main functions of water in living systems are: An effective and universal biological solvent. Hydrogen is positively charged and oxygen negatively charged. Other molecules that are charged can form weak bonds with the molecule, allowing them to be dissolved in water. A reactant molecule in many biological reactions. A temperature & pH buffering agent. Produced as a waste product of cellular respiration and is needed as a raw material in the photosynthesis reaction. Helps in body temperature regulation, ensuring the normal functioning of organisms. Transport of substances from cells to tissues. A metabolic medium - hydrolysis which is key in the digestive process, requires water. In this process, water is inserted into a nutrient and enzymes are present to catalyse the reaction. The nutrient is broken down to its smallest subunit. Makes up most of the volume of the cell and is needed to prevent dehydration. Water is the main component of blood plasma. Latent Heat of Evaporation - energy required for an endothermic change where the system absorbs energy to transform from the state of liquid to gas at a given pressure (often ATP). Specific Heat Capacity - the measurable physical quantity that characterizes the amount of heat required to change a substance's temperature by a given amount. Calcium A second messenger in signal transduction pathways, transporting electrical signals across synapses. A cofactor in enzymes, eg those of blood clotting cascade. It is needed for the conversion of fibrinogen into fibrin. Strengthening bones. Cellular division in plants - forms the miotic spindle without which cellular division won't occur. Ca2+ ions are an essential component of plant cell walls and cell membranes, and are used as cations to balance organic anions in the plant vacuole. Needed to stabilize the permeability of cell membranes. This is particularly important in developing fruits. Sodium The sodium cation is the main extracellular (outside cells) cation in animals and is important for regulating water balance, pH, and osmotic pressure.

Involved in muscle contraction including heartbeat, nerve impulses, and the digestion of body-building protein. Aids active transport.

Potassium Important in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the bodies of humans and animals. Potassium is the major cation (positive ion) inside animal cells, while sodium is the major cation outside animal cells. The concentration differences of these charged particles causes a difference in electric potential between the inside and outside of cells, known as the membrane potential. This electrical discharge is critical for body functions such as neurotransmission, muscle contraction, and heart function. Magnesium Formation of chlorophyll Chloride Forms hydrochloric acid in stomach for digestion of food. Found to attenuate nitric oxide production, which contributes to vessel homeostasis by inhibiting vascular smooth muscle contraction and growth, platelet aggregation, and leukocyte adhesion to the endothelium. Act as an electrolyte (a fluid that conducts electricity). Found in many fluids of the human body such as blood, lymph, and fluids of cells. It is able to aid in the transportation of carbon dioxide and helps to balance the pH level of blood. This occurs when there is a constant exchange of chloride and bicarbonate between red blood cells. With the combination of sodium and potassium, chloride can be found in the nervous system where it aids in the transportation of electrical impulses. Nitrates Provide the nitrogen plants need to construct such vital molecules as amino acids and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). Also some of the vitamins. Serves as an important limiting factor in the growth of certain bacteria in ocean waters. Free radical nitric oxide (NO) (derived from an amino acid), serves as an important regulatory molecule for circulation. *Obtained through fertilisers or nitrogen-fixing bacteria Phosphates Phosphorus is a key component of biological molecules such as DNA and RNA. It is also a component of bones, and teeth, and many other compounds required for life. Used to transport cellular energy in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) that is used in every cellular process that uses energy.

Formation of biological membranes that are made from a phospholipids matrix and protein, typically in the form of a bilayer. Essential macromineral for plants.