This is the first 1,000 characters of 523 words (2.09 pages) in the essay titled Nitrogen Fixation
The growth of all organisms depends on the availability of mineral nutrients, and none is more important than nitrogen, which is required in large amounts as an essential component of proteins, nucleic acids and other cellular constituents. There is an abundant supply of nitrogen in the earth's atmosphere - nearly 79% in the form of N2 gas. However, N2 is unavailable for use by most organisms because there is a triple bond between the two nitrogen atoms, making the molecule almost inert. In order for nitrogen to be used for growth it must be "fixed" (combined) in the form of ammonium (NH4) or nitrate (NO3) ions. The weathering of rocks releases these ions so slowly that it has a neglible effect on the availability of fixed nitrogen. So, nitrogen is often the limiting factor for growth and biomass production in all environments where there is suitable climate and availability of water to support life.
Microorganisms have a central role in almost all aspe...
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