What Biological Processes Are Affected by Temperature?

All biological processes are affected by temperature. In most cases, an increase in temperature leads to a corresponding increase in the rate of a reaction.

Plants and animals use enzymes to speed up chemical reactions. Enzymes are very sensitive to temperature changes, so any process involving an enzyme is affected by a change in temperature. Experts from Worthington Biochemical Corporation say a 10-degree Centigrade increase in temperature often increases enzyme activity by 50 to 100 percent. Even small temperature changes increase the activity of many enzymes. Conversely, some enzymes stop functioning if they are frozen.

Digestion is just one example of a biological process affected by temperature. Enzymes are responsible for breaking down food as it moves through the digestive system. As food is broken down, it is converted to energy the body can use for other functions. Temperature affects digestion by altering the activity of digestive enzymes.

Temperature also affects cellular respiration, which is a method of producing energy. During one of the steps of cellular respiration, glucose is converted to pyruvate. This 10-step process would not be possible without several specific enzymes. Because these enzymes are affected by temperature, temperature changes also affect the rate of cellular respiration.