High School Biology : Understanding Properties of Water

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for High School Biology

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Understanding Properties Of Water

In the human body, water is NOT responsible for which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Acting as a reactant for chemical reactions

Dissolving hydrophilic compounds

Dissolving nonpolar compounds

Acting as a solvent for reactions

Correct answer:

Dissolving nonpolar compounds

Explanation:

Water is a very important molecule in order for life to take place. It is the solvent in which chemical reactions take place, as well as a reactant for certain reactions. Water's polarity also causes polar molecules to dissolve and nonpolar compounds to aggregate. As a result, nonpolar molecules are not dissolved in water.

Example Question #9 : Attributes Of Life

Which of the following is not a defining property of water?

Possible Answers:

Capillary action

High specific heat capacity

High surface tension

Polarity

Low heat of vaporization

Correct answer:

Low heat of vaporization

Explanation:

Water is often called the universal solvent and is one of the most important compounds on Earth. The molecular structure of water promotes intermolecular hydrogen bonding, a very strong force between molecules. The result is known as cohesion, the phenomenon of water molecules "sticking" to one another. Cohesion leads to other water properties, such as high surface tension and capillary action, which are essential to supporting life. Hydrogen bonding is only possible in water molecules because of the polarity of the bond between oxygen and hydrogen; oxygen carries a partial negative charge, and hydrogen carries a partial positive charge. Water also have a very high specific heat, which means that it requires a lot of energy to raise the temperature of water. This promotes homeostasis and temperature stability in biological organisms.

In the liquid state, cohesion promotes stability, but in the gaseous state water molecules must separate from one another to move around. Essentially, cohesion must be overcome in order for water to boil. This leads to a high heat of vaporization, rather than a low heat of vaporization.

Example Question #7 : Attributes Of Life

Which of the following macromolecules would not be soluble in water?

Possible Answers:

Nucleic acids

Lipids

Proteins

Carbohydrates

Correct answer:

Lipids

Explanation:

Molecules that are hydrophobic or "water fearing" will have a hard time dissolving in an aqueous solution. Lipids, which are nonpolar molecules, would not be able to dissolve in water.

Example Question #1 : Understanding Properties Of Water

What is the name of the process by which plants return water back to the atmosphere?

Possible Answers:

Sublimation

Evaporation

Precipitation

Transpiration

Correct answer:

Transpiration

Explanation:

In the water cycle, there are abiotic and biotic factors that contribute to the recycling of water. The process by which non-living things return water to the atmosphere is called evaporation. Plants, on the other hand, intake water through their roots and release the water as vapor through tiny openings on leaves called stomata. This process is called transpiration.

Example Question #44 : High School Biology

Which of the following properties of water is most responsible for the fact that lakes do not freeze from the bottom up?

Possible Answers:

Water freezes at 

Hydrogen bonding between water molecules gives water a high boiling point

Water has high surface tension

The density of ice is less than the density of liquid water

Correct answer:

The density of ice is less than the density of liquid water

Explanation:

When water freezes, its density decreases (most substances do not exhibit this property). This means that ice will float on top of a lake, rather than sink to the bottom. Because the ice floats on top of a lake, it freezes from the top down rather than from the bottom up. The other answer choices are all properties of water, but they do not explain why lakes freeze from top down, and not from bottom up.

Example Question #45 : High School Biology

Hydrolysis is best defined by which of the following choices?

Possible Answers:

The formation of a bond by the loss of a water molecule

None of the above

The breaing of a bond by the loss of a water molecule

The formation of a bond by the addition of a water molecule

The breaking of a bond by the addition of a water molecule

Correct answer:

The breaking of a bond by the addition of a water molecule

Explanation:

Hydrolysis is the reverse of a dehydration reaction; the bond between monomers is broken by the addition of a water molecule, with a hydrogen atom from water attaching to one monomer and the hydroxyl group attaching to the other.  

Example Question #46 : High School Biology

Which of the following properties of water is responsible for a plant's ability to draw water from its roots, up the xylem, and into its leaves where it plays a role in photosynthesis?

Possible Answers:

It has a high boiling point and a relatively low freezing point which keeps it liquid in the plant xylem

The viscosity of water

None of these

Its relatively small molecular weight

The cohesive and adhesive nature of water

Correct answer:

The cohesive and adhesive nature of water

Explanation:

Water is unique in many ways. Much of its versatility is due to hydrogen bonding and polarity. The electronegativity of the oxygen atom creates a slightly positive charge on the hydrogen atoms—water is polar. Water can share hydrogen bonds and form them with itself. Because of this it has a high boiling point and high heat capacity. It is a good solvent because the oxygen can surround positively charged molecules and the slight positive charge on the hydrogen atoms can surround negative charges.

The cohesive nature of water stems from the fact it forms hydrogen bonds with itself. This allows water molecules to pull on lower molecules as they all travel up the xylem. The adhesive nature comes from the polarity of the molecule, which can be attracted to the walls of the xylem. 

Example Question #47 : High School Biology

Which of these is not a biologically significant property of water?

Possible Answers:

Low specific heat

Polarity

Lower density as a solid than a liquid

Cohesion

Hydrogen bonding

Correct answer:

Low specific heat

Explanation:

Water actually has a high specific heat, higher than any other common substance. A high specific heat (defined as the amount of heat needed to raise one mass unit of substance by one unit of temperature, usually expressed in  or ) means that water can absorb a large amount of heat without changing temperature. This makes it important for organisms in things like thermoregulation (think prespiration).

Example Question #2 : Understanding Properties Of Water

Which of the following organs is responsible for detoxification?

Possible Answers:

Peroxizomes

Vacuoles

Ribosomes

Mitochondria

Nucleus

Correct answer:

Peroxizomes

Explanation:

Peroxisomes are responsible for detoxification. They contain many enzymes that breakdown lipids and amino acids. Additionally, they breakdown toxins like alcohol in the cells of the liver. 

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