Biology as Poetry: Chemistry

Bacteriophage Ecology Group

Polar Solvent

Fluid capable of dissolve substances possessing full or partial charges.

The most common of polar solvents is water, which readily dissolves or at least wets polar substances. These substances include sugars, carbohydrates more generally, amino acids along with polypeptides and proteins, nucleic acids, many salts, ions, etc. Alternatively, water excludes nonpolar substances such as lipids in the course of hydrophobic exclusion.

Life as we know it exists within aqueous solutions, which is another way of saying within environments that either exist predominantly as the polar solvent, water, or instead such that organisms carry around that water within their bodies. Take away that water and metabolisms cease. Indeed, one means by which foods are preserved is by reducing the availability of water within foods to food-spoilage microorganisms.

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