Biophysical Reviews

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 795–808 | Cite as

Effect of water and ionic liquids on biomolecules



The remarkable progress in the field of ionic liquids (ILs) in the last two decades has involved investigations on different aspects of ILs in various conditions. The nontoxic and biocompatible nature of ILs makes them a suitable substance for the storage and application of biomolecules. In this regard, the aqueous IL solutions have attracted a large number of studies to comprehend the role of water in modulating various properties of biomolecules. Here, we review some of the recent studies on aqueous ILs that concern the role of water in altering the behavior of ILs in general and in case of biomolecules solvated in ILs. The different structural and dynamic effects caused by water have been highlighted. We discuss the different modes of IL interaction that are responsible for stabilization and destabilization of proteins and enzymes followed by examples of water effect on this. The role of water in the case of nucleic acid storage in ILs, an area which has mostly been underrated, also has been emphasized. Our discussions highlight the fact that the effects of water on IL behavior are not general and are highly dependent on the nature of the IL under consideration. Overall, we aim to draw attention to the significance of water dynamics in the aqueous IL solutions, a better understanding of which can help in developing superior storage materials for application purposes.


IL structure IL dynamics IL protein interactions IL DNA interaction 
















This work was funded by DST SERB (EMR/2016/001069).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Debasis Saha declares that he has no conflict of interest. Arnab Mukherjee declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB) and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chemistry DepartmentIndian Institute of Science Education and ResearchPuneIndia

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