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Nitrogen Cycle
Where is Nitrogen
found in the
environment?
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- The largest single


source of nitrogen
is in the
atmosphere.
3

- Nitrogen makes
up 78% of our air
What happens to
atmospheric
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nitrogen (N2) in the


nitrogen cycle?
- Atmospheric
nitrogen is
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converted to
ammonia or
nitrates.
6

- Ammonia (NH3) –
Nitrogen combines
with Hydrogen to
make Ammonia.
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- Nitrates (NO3) –
nitrogen combines
with Oxygen to
make Nitrates.
8

Why does
atmospheric
nitrogen need to be
converted?
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- Nitrogen is an
essential
component of
DNA and proteins
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– the building
blocks of life.
- Although the
majority of the air
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we breathe is
nitrogen, most
living organisms
are unable to used
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nitrogen as it
exists in the
atmosphere.
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How does
atmospheric
nitrogen get
changed into a form
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that can be used by


most living
organisms?
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- By traveling
through one of the
four processes in
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the Nitrogen
Cycle:
1. Nitrogen fixation
2. Ammonification
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3. Nitrification
4. Denitrification
Nitrogen Fixation
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- Is the process that


causes the strong
two-atom nitrogen
molecules found in
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the atmosphere to
break apart so
they can combine
with other atoms.
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- Nitrogen gets
“fixed” when it is
combined with
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oxygen or
hydrogen.
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- There are three


ways that nitrogen
gets “fixed”:
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a. Atmospheric
fixation
b. Industrial
Fixation
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- Atmospheric
Fixation (Only 5 to
8% of the Fixation
Process)
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o The enormous
enery of lighning
breaks nitrogen
molecules apart
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and enables the


nitrogen atoms to
combine with
oxygen forming
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nitrogen oxides
(N2O). Nitrogen
oxides dissolve in
rain, forming
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nitrates. Nitrates
(NO3) are carried
to the ground with
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the ground with


the rain.
- Industrial Fixation
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o Under great
pressure, at a
temperature of
0
600 c, and with
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the use of
catalyst,
atmospheric
nitrogen (N2) and
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hydrogen are
combined to form
ammonia (NH3).
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Ammonia can be
used as fertilizer.
- Biological Fixation
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o Where most
nitrogen fixing is
completed
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o There are two


types of Nitrogen
Fixing Bacteria:
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 Free living
bacteria (“fixed”
30% of N2)
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 Symbiotic
Relationship
Bacteria- “fixed”
70% of N2
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Free Living Bacteria


- Highly specialized
bacteria live in the
soil and have the
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ability t combine
atmospheric
nitrogen with
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hydrogen to make
ammonia (NH3)
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Symbiotic
Relationship
Bacteria
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- Bacteria live in the


roots of legume
family plants and
provide the plants
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with ammonia
(NH3) in exchange
for the plant’s
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carbon and a
protected home.
- Some of the
ammonia escapes
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into the
surrounding soil
enriching it with
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usable nitrogen for


all plants.
“Most atmospheric
nitrogen (N2) is
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“fixed” and changed


to ammonia (NH3).
Ammonia is highly
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toxic to many
organisms.”
Can Plants use
ammonia?
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- Very few plants


can us ammonia
Ammonification
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- Decomposition by
bacteria and fungi
breaks down
amino acids from
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dead animals and


wastes into
ammonia.
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- Bacteria
decomposers
break down amino
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acids into
ammonia.
- Because plants
cannot use the
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organic forms of
nitrogen that are in
the soil as a result
of
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o Wastes (manure
and sewage)
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o Compost and
decomposing
roots and leaves.
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- Microorganisms
convert the
organic nitrogen to
ammonia. The
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ammonia is either
taken up by the
plants (only in a
few types of
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plants) or is
absorbed into the
soil particles.
Ammonia (NH3) in
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the soil is stored


up to later be
changed into
forms of nitrogen
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that most plants


can use.
Nitrification
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- Nitrifying bacteria
in the ground first
combine ammonia
with oxygen to
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form nitrites. Then


another group of
nitrifying bacteria
convert nitrites to
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nitrates which
green plants can
absorb and use.
Denitrification
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- Denitrification
converts nitrates
(NO3) in the soil to
atmospheric
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nitrogen (N2)
replenishing the
atmosphere.
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- Denitrifying
bacteria live deep
in soil and in
swampy
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sediments where
conditions make it
difficult for them to
get oxygen. The
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denitrifying
bacteria use
nitrates as an
alternative to
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oxygen, leaving
free nitrogen gas
as byproduct
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Other ways that


nitrogen returns to
the atmosphere:
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a. Emissions from
industrial
combustion and
gasoline engines
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create nitrous
oxides gas (N2O)
b. Volcano
eruptions emits
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nitrous oxides
gas (N2O)