Nitrogen that is found on earth plays a major role in the balance of nature. This is because, all living organism uses nitrogen to survive. However, the nitrogen that makes up major portion of our atmosphere cannot be used by many organisms.
But how did nitrogen becomes a very important in all living things? For a start, nitrogen is one of the most important elements in proteins, the basic nutrient to which our body needs to build and repair cells and tissues. Nitrogen is also very important element in the production of nucleic acids, which main function is to control allcellular activities.
But how can nitrogen in the air are converted into a more useful form. The answer lies to one of nature’s remarkable organisms – the Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria.
The nitrogen-fixing bacteria are the only organism on earth that can use atmospheric nitrogen directly. These useful bacteria live in the roots of plants which converts nitrogen into a usable compound that can be use by the plants. The nitrogen gas is combined with other elements to form a compound in a process called “nitrogen fixation”. After the nitrogen is transformed into these compounds, plants are now able to absorb it from the soil. Absorb nitrogen compounds can now be used by plants to grow and flourished. As plants grow, animals then depend on the plants for their own supply of nitrogen.
Aside from nature’s microscopic friends, nitrogen can also be fixed by yet another act of nature – lightning. As lightning strikes,nitrogen in the air combines with other elements to form compounds. The nitrogen compounds are then carried to the earth by means of a process called “precipitation”. As the nitrogen compounds settles in the earth, plants can now absorbed them for its use.
Another source of nitrogen in natures comes directly to plants and animals. As the plants and animal dies and decayed, the nitrogen in their bodies is again absorbed by the soil or in the ocean in a form of ammonia. Ammonia is a compound that largely made up of nitrogen and other element. The ammonia is an important source of nutrient by nitrifying bacteria. When ammonia is used, it is being converted into nitrates. As the nitrifying bacteria releases nitrates, it is accumulated in the soil or in the bottom of the ocean just waiting to be absorbed again by plants.
And lastly, the nitrogen compounds are broken down by denitrifying bacteria that also lives in the soil. These bacteria breaks down nitrogen compound or nitrates bringing it back to its original gas form. The nitrogen gas escapes and combines with the surrounding air to complete the nitrogen cycle.