Ammonification is a phase in the nitrogen cycle’s five-step process, which is critical for delivering vital nitrogen to living organisms. Ammonification occurs because decomposers exist, which disintegrate animal and plant cells into smaller components, allowing nutrients to enter the environment. Ammonification refers to the transformation of organic nitrogen (the type of nitrogen present in living creatures) into inorganic ammonia (NH3) or ammonium ions (NH4+). Examples of nitrogen-containing compounds present in humans and other organisms include proteins, nucleic acids such as DNA, vitamins such as B-vitamins, and urea.
Diverse bacteria and fungi consume these substances and produce ammonia, which is subsequently transformed into ammonium compounds in the soil and absorbed by plants. Look at the graphic below to familiarise yourself with the nitrogen cycle. Take note of the decomposers’ eating of plant and animal debris to make ammonium.
Function of Ammonification
Even though the environment contains seventy-eight percent nitrogen, living organisms cannot use the atmospheric form of nitrogen, N2, which is why the nitrogen cycle is necessary for life. The corpse of an animal or plant, as well as its wastes, include organic nitrogen when it comes to ammonification. This nitrogen must be returned to the environment in forms that living species can utilise; ammonification is used to replace soil or water nitrogen in a form which plants can absorb and transport up the food web.
Can There Be Too Much Nitrogen?
Although nitrogen is necessary for the formation of many chemicals in living organisms, there is a limit to how much nitrogen may be present in the environment. People apply fertilisers to soil nowadays to enhance the levels of nitrogen available for ammonification. However, this and other additional agricultural practises may lead to issues such as nutrient leaching, which causes toxicity and ecosystem imbalances by producing an abundance of algae as well as other creatures in adjacent water bodies.
Related Biology Terms
- Nitrogen fixation is a step in the nitrogen cycle that involves converting atmospheric nitrogen (N2) into nitrogen molecules for usage by plants and animals.
- Denitrification is the part of the nitrogen cycle where nitrates in the soil are converted to molecular nitrogen, which is ultimately released into the atmosphere.
- Eutrophication is the pollution of a lake by sewage or fertiliser, which promotes algae growth and results in oxygen depletion in the lake.
1.Which of the following is a product of ammonification?
- Amino acids
C is correct. Ammonification is the conversion of organic nitrogen to ammonia and ammonium ions.
2. An example of ammonification is:
- A.Converting nitrogen into ammonia by nitrogen fixers
- Converting urea into ammonia by decomposers
- Converting nitrates into ammonia by nitrogen fixers
- Converting nitrates into ammonia by decomposers
B is correct. Urea, proteins, vitamins, and nucleic acids in living organisms contain organic nitrogen that decomposers have to convert to ammonia or ammonium ions to make nitrogen available for plants to take up.