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Nitrogen Cycle

Biogeochemical cycle is any of the natural circulation pathways of the essential
elements of living matter. These elements in various forms flow from the nonliving
(abiotic) to the living (biotic) components of the biosphere and back to the nonliving
again. In order for the living components of a major ecosystem (e.g., a lake or forest) to
survive, all the chemical elements that make up living cells must be recycled
continuously.

Nitrogen gas is the most abundant element in the atmosphere and all the nitrogen
found in terrestrial ecosystems originate from the atmosphere. The nitrogen cycle is by
far the most important nutrient cycle for plant life.

 All life requires nitrogen-compounds, e.g., proteins and nucleic acids.
 Air, which is 79% nitrogen gas (N2), is the major reservoir of nitrogen.
 But most organisms cannot use nitrogen in this form.
 Plants must secure their nitrogen in "fixed" form, i.e., incorporated in compounds
such as:
 nitrate ions (NO3−)
 ammonium ions (NH4+)
 urea (NH2)2CO
 Animals secure their nitrogen (and all other) compounds from plants (or animals
that have fed on plants).

Ecological function

Nitrogen is necessary for all known forms of life on Earth. It is a component in all amino
acids, as incorporated into proteins, and is present in the bases that make up nucleic
acids such as RNA and DNA. In plants, much of the nitrogen is used
in chlorophyll molecules, which are essential for photosynthesis and further
growth. Nitrogen gas (N2) is the largest constituent of the Earth's atmosphere, but this
form is relatively nonreactive and unusable by plants. Chemical processing or
natural fixation (through processes such as bacterial conversion—see rhizobium) are
necessary to convert gaseous nitrogen into compounds such as nitrate or ammonia
which can be used by plants. The abundance or scarcity of this "fixed" nitrogen (also
known as reactive nitrogen) frequently limits plant growth in both managed and wild
environments. The nitrogen cycle, like the carbon cycle, is an important part of every
ecosystem.

but most of its is further processed to urea and ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3). Microorganisms play major roles in all four of these processes. forming nitrates. To break it apart so that its atoms can combine with other atoms requires the input of substantial amounts of energy. at a temperature of 600°C. nitrate (NO3-). Nitrogen Fixation Atmospheric nitrogen must be processed.The processes of the nitrogen cycle Four processes participate in the cycling of nitrogen through the biosphere:  nitrogen fixation  assimilation  ammonification  nitrification  denitrification Nitrogen is present in the environment in a wide variety of chemical forms including organic nitrogen. to be used by plants. atmospheric nitrogen and hydrogen (usually derived from natural gas or petroleum) can be combined to form ammonia (NH3). Biological Fixation The ability to fix nitrogen is found only in certain bacteria and archaea. or "fixed". Industrial Fixation Under great pressure. These dissolve in rain. Atmospheric nitrogen fixation probably contributes some 5– 8% of the total nitrogen fixed. Three processes are responsible for most of the nitrogen fixation in the biosphere:  atmospheric fixation by lightning  biological fixation by certain microbes — alone or in a symbiotic relationship with some plants and animals  industrial fixation Atmospheric Fixation The enormous energy of lightning breaks nitrogen molecules and enables their atoms to combine with oxygen in the air forming nitrogen oxides. ammonium (NH4+). . Ammonia can be used directly as fertilizer.nitrite (NO2-). The nitrogen molecule (N2) is quite inert. nitrous oxide (N2O). nitric oxide (NO) or inorganic nitrogen gas (N2). that are carried to the earth. and with the use of a catalyst.

other heterotrophs (including many bacteria) are able to utilize inorganic compounds.  Some establish symbiotic relationships with plants other than legumes (e. While many animals. The plant provides amino acids to the bacteroids so ammonia assimilation is not required and the bacteroids pass amino acids (with the newly fixed nitrogen) back to the plant. Most nitrogen obtained by terrestrial animals can be traced back to the eating of plants at some stage of the food chain. The bacteria that are present during Nitrogen Fixation are:  Azotobacter  Clostridium  Rhizobium  Nostoc  Anabaena Assimilation Plants take nitrogen from the soil by absorption through their roots in the form of either nitrate ions or ammonium ions. nucleic acids.  Nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria are essential to maintaining the fertility of semi- aquatic environments like rice paddies. It is now known that there is a more complex cycling of amino acids between Rhizobia bacteroids and plants. termites and "shipworms" (wood-eating bivalves). alfalfa). some nitrogen is assimilated in the form of ammonium ions directly from the nodules.. Although the first stable product of the process is ammonia. .g. and chlorophyll.g. If nitrate is absorbed. it is first reduced to nitrite ions and then ammonium ions for incorporation into amino acids.. and other heterotrophic organisms obtain nitrogen by ingestion of amino acids. this is quickly incorporated into protein and other organic nitrogen compounds.  Some establish symbiotic relationships with animals.g.  Some nitrogen-fixing bacteria live free in the soil. alders). nucleotides and other small organic molecules. thus forming an interdependent relationship. Biological nitrogen fixation requires a complex set of enzymes and a huge expenditure of ATP. fungi..  Some live in a symbiotic relationship with plants of the legume family (e. e. Plants can absorb nitrate or ammonium ions from the soil via their root hairs. soybeans. In plants that have a symbiotic relationship with rhizobia.

They are more abundant than the nitrifying bacteria and may turn out to play an important role in the nitrogen cycle. a process called ammonification or mineralization. However. These reach the soil when they shed their leaves. Nitrification Ammonia can be taken up directly by plants — usually through their roots. Through their activities (which supply them with all their energy needs). Denitrification The three processes above remove nitrogen from the atmosphere and pass it through ecosystems.such as ammonium as sole N sources. nitrogen is made available to the roots of plants. Utilization of various N sources is carefully regulated in all organisms.  Bacteria of the genus Nitrobacter oxidize the nitrites to nitrates (NO3−). Ammonification When a plant or animal dies or an animal expels waste. thus replenishing the atmosphere. also perform nitrification — converting some of their organic nitrogen to nitrites and nitrates. In the process several intermediates are formed:  nitric oxide (NO)  nitrous oxide (N2O)(a greenhouse gas 300 times as potent as CO2)  nitrous acid (HONO) . Both soil and the ocean contain archaeal microbes. assigned to the Crenarchaeota. Many legumes. This is accomplished in two steps:  Bacteria of the genus Nitrosomonas oxidize NH3 to nitrites (NO2−). Bacteria or fungi convert the organic nitrogen within the remains back into ammonium (NH4+). that convert ammonia to nitrites. Denitrification reduces nitrates and nitrites to nitrogen gas. the initial form of nitrogen is organic. in addition to fixing atmospheric nitrogen. most of the ammonia produced by decay is converted into nitrates. These two groups of autotrophic bacteria are called nitrifying bacteria.

humans have significantly contributed to the transfer of nitrogen trace gases from Earth to the atmosphere and from the land to aquatic systems. While not as abundant in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. alfalfa. and clover). growing use of the Haber–Bosch process in the creation of chemical fertilizers. and industrial sources. where vehicle emissions and industrial agriculture are highest. where it breaks down and acts as a catalyst in the destruction of atmospheric ozone. Nitrous oxide is also a greenhouse gas and is currently the third largest contributor to global warming. after carbon dioxide and methane. They use nitrates as an alternative to oxygen for the final electron acceptor in their respiration. nearly 300 . for an equivalent mass. human beings have more than doubled the annual transfer of nitrogen into biologically available forms. biomass burning.The bacteria that are present during Nitrogen Fixation are:  Thiobacillus denitrificans  Pseuodomonas denitrificans  Micrococcus dentrificans Once again. it is. They live deep in soil and in aquatic sediments where conditions are anaerobic. cattle and feedlots. Human influences on the nitrogen cycle As a result of extensive cultivation of legumes (particularly soy. In addition. and pollution emitted by vehicles and industrial plants. bacteria are the agents. The bacteria that are present during Denitrification are:  Thiobacillus denitrificans  Pseuodomonas denitrificans  Micrococcus denitrificans Agriculture may now be responsible for one-half of the nitrogen fixation on earth through  the use of fertilizers produced by industrial fixation  the growing of legumes like soybeans and alfalfa. N2O has deleterious effects in the stratosphere. Nitrous oxide (N2O) has risen in the atmosphere as a result of agricultural fertilization. Human alterations to the global nitrogen cycle are most intense in developed countries and in Asia.

eventually resulting in nitric acid (HNO3) that produces acid rain. including humans.the higher the temperature. Catskills. The higher combustion temperature of hydrogen produces more NOx than natural gas combustion. but so are biofuels and even the burning of hydrogen. Environmental impacts Additional risks posed by increased availability of inorganic nitrogen in aquatic ecosystems include water acidification. where it acts as an aerosol. which can cause death of aquatic fauna. They are precursors of tropospheric (lower atmosphere) ozone production. Ammonia and nitrous oxides actively alter atmospheric chemistry. The very-high temperature of lightning naturally produces small amounts of NO x. Decreases in biodiversity can also result of higher nitrogen availability increases nitrogen-demanding grasses. NH3. species diverseheathlands. but anthropogenic input can also result in nitrogen saturation. Oceanic dead zones near the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico are a well-known example of algal bloom-induced hypoxia. and humans. and toxicity issues for animals. Ammonia (NH3) in the atmosphere has tripled as the result of human activities. or bottom-dwelling creatures. Atmospheric ammonia and nitric acid also damage respiratory systems. the more NOx is produced. Ecosystem processes can increase with nitrogen fertilization. damages plants and increases nitrogen inputs to ecosystems. Its production is a function of combustion temperature . including hypoxic and anoxic conditions. is particularly vulnerable because of their lack of mobility. decreasing air quality and clinging to water droplets. animals. and HNO3. eutrophication of fresh and saltwater systems. causing a degradation of nitrogen-poor. resulting in the killing of fish and .times more potent in its ability to warm the planet. which contributes to smog and acid rain. Eutrophication often leads to lower dissolved oxygen levels in the water column. It is a reactant in the atmosphere. The New York Adirondack Lakes. Fossil fuel combustion is a primary contributor. but high-temperature combustion has contributed to a 6 or 7 fold increase in the flux of NOx to the atmosphere. Rensselaer Plateau and parts of Long Island display the impact of nitric acid rain deposition. Relatively sessile benthos. though large fish kills are not uncommon. Hudson Highlands. which weakens productivity and can damage the health of plants. fish.

To prevent fish deaths. Problems with increase of Nitrogen  Acid rain formation  Acidification of soil and lakes  Increase in death of plants . Land application can be an attractive alternative to the aeration.many other aquatic species. Ammonia (NH3) is highly toxic to fish and the level of ammonia discharged from wastewater treatment facilities must be closely monitored. nitrification viaaeration prior to discharge is often desirable.

Members: Ceriola II. Sherome Celebria. Delmo. Julius Angelo M. Gabriel G. Jack Ryan Engr. ESCI 313 – 2 Nitrogen Cycle GROUP NUMBER: 2 Leader: Dacuyan. Lozada Instructor . Shary Mae F. De Leon. Wilihardo D.