The properties of water
Osmoregulation is a term that incorporates all the physiological processes that regulate the quantity and concentration of water in the body and in the cells of animals. The unique structural properties of water and its role as a solvent influence every aspect of cellular structure and function. The structure and properties of water are modified by the presence of solutes. Solutes influence osmosis through their effects on the ‘activity of water’. Solute type and the activity coefficients of these solutes at varying concentrations must be taken into account. The colligative properties of water (surface tension, density, freezing point) are discussed with regard to their significance in biological systems. This chapter provides a descriptive as well as a quantitative foundation for understanding the role of water in biological systems.
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