GMO Sustainability Frontier: Helping Crops Acquire Their Own Nitrogen

GMO Sustainability Frontier: Helping Crops Acquire Their Own Nitrogen

GMO Sustainability Frontier: Helping Crops Acquire Their Own Nitrogen

Genetic Literacy Project

/ August 1, 2016 /

It comprises 78 percent of our atmosphere, yet it enters and leaves your lungs unchanged. That’s partly because the triple bond holding its two atoms together is really hard to break up, and that’s why most plants don’t do anything with it either.

Molecular nitrogen (N2) has loads of chemical energy packed into that triple bond, and nature has ways to break it up. In a process called nitrogen fixation, energy is consumed to convert atmospheric N2 into compounds like ammonia (NH3), ammonium (NH4+), and nitrate (NO3–), which plants are equipped to utilize in their growth. Physical forces that can do this include volcanism and lightning strike, but certain bacteria and certain archaea also can fix nitrogen using an the enzyme nitrogenase, which breaks up N2 and adds hydrogen, producing ammonia. In another process, called nitrification, soil bacteria can convert ammonia to nitrate, which plants love, though plants also can utilize ammonium, the ionic form of ammonia.

Visit: https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/08/01/next-gmo-sustainability-frontier-helping-crops-acquire-nitrogen/ to read the full article.

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