Nitrogen in the air
Nitrogen is required by all living organisms for the synthesis of proteins, nucleic acids and other nitrogen containing compounds. The Earth’s atmosphere contains almost 80 % nitrogen gas. It cannot be used in this form by most living organisms until it has been fixed, that is reduced (combined with hydrogen), to ammonia.
The nitrogen cycle is a series of processes that convert nitrogen gas to organic substances and back to nitrogen in nature. It is a continuous cycle that is maintained by the decomposers and nitrogen bacteria. The nitrogen cycle can be broken down into four types of reaction and micro-organisms play roles in all of these.