Because water is commonly the most abundant compound found in living organisms, its necessity for life reactions is self evident, but its significance in these reactions should not be ignored. The mere presence of large amounts of water in an active cell confers on its protoplasm certain physical properties. Thus variations in the water content of protoplasm are reflected in changes in the physical environment in which metabolic reactions occur. For example a decrease in hydration results in an increase in protoplasmic viscosity, an increase in osmotic pressure, and slower metabolism, until if dehydration proceeds too far irreversible changes result and death ensues. Active protoplasm seldom has a moisture content less than about 90 per cent.


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