Organisms can tolerate only small changes in pH because every cell has a particular pH at which it functions best. For example, changes in pH cause changes in enzyme conformation, resulting in a change in activity. Most cells function best within a narrow range of temperature and pH. At very low temperatures, reaction rates are too slow. High temperatures or extremes of pH can irreversibly change the structure of proteins and alter their function.
The student will investigate and understand the chemical and biochemical principles essential for life. Key concepts include a) water chemistry and its impact on life processes; b) the structure and function of macromolecules; c) the nature of enzymes; and d) the capture, storage, transformation, and flow of energy through the processes of photosynthesis and respiration.