Nitrogen Fixation Vital for Plant Growth
Plants require nitrogen to grow and perform vital functions, such as producing proteins and enzymes. However, the nitrogen found in the air, which makes up around 78% of our atmosphere, is not directly accessible to plants. Nitrogen must be converted into a usable form through a process called nitrogen fixation.
Roots form symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria
One common way that plants obtain nitrogen is through their roots. They form a symbiotic relationship with certain types of soil bacteria, known as nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These bacteria have the unique ability to convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, a form of nitrogen that plants can utilize. The ammonia is then converted into nitrate, which is the primary form of nitrogen that plants take up from the soil.
Organic Decomposition Provides Nitrogen for Plants
Another source of nitrogen for plants is through the decomposition of organic matter. When plants, animals, or other organic materials die, they break down, and the nitrogen in their tissues is released back into the environment. Decomposers, such as bacteria and fungi, then break down these organic materials, converting the nitrogen into ammonium or nitrate, which is subsequently taken up by plants.
Plants acquire nitrogen through atmospheric deposition
Plants can also acquire nitrogen through a process called nitrogen deposition. Nitrogen compounds, such as ammonia and nitrogen dioxide, can be released into the atmosphere through human activities, such as industrial processes and the burning of fossil fuels. These compounds can then be deposited onto the soil or directly onto plant surfaces through rainfall or atmospheric deposition. The plants can subsequently absorb the nitrogen from the deposited compounds.