Nitrogen: Biological Fixation

Authored by: Mark B. Peoples

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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Although dinitrogen (N2) gas represents almost 80% of the Earth’s atmosphere, it is not a source of nitrogen (N) that is readily available to plants. However, a number of procaryotic microorganisms have evolved that utilize the enzyme nitrogenase to reduce atmospheric N2 to ammonia, which can subsequently be used to support their growth. Biological N2 fixation (BNF) by some diazotrophs can occur in a free-living state, or via associative relationships with plants, while others can fix N2 only in symbiosis with specific plant hosts.

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