Nitrogen: Biological Fixation

Authored by: Mark B. Peoples

Managing Global Resources and Universal Processes

Print publication date:  July  2020
Online publication date:  July  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138342637
eBook ISBN: 9780429346132
Adobe ISBN:

10.1201/9780429346132-51

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Abstract

A number of procaryotic microorganisms have evolved which have the capacity to generate nitrogen (N) to support their growth through a process known as biological N2 fixation (BNF). They achieve this by reducing atmospheric dinitrogen (N2) gas to ammonia using the enzyme nitrogenase. BNF by some diazotrophs can occur in a free-living state or via loose associative relationships with plants, while others only fix N2 in symbiotic partnerships with specific plant hosts. It has been estimated that annual inputs of BNF in agricultural systems from all these different sources represent 55–70 million tonnes of fixed N. This compares to global applications of ~100 million tonnes of fertilizer N to crops and grasslands each year.

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