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Ammonification, Humans And Ammonification

Strictly speaking, ammonification refers to any chemical reaction that generates ammonia (NH3) as an end product (or its ionic form, ammonium, NH + 4 ). Ammonification can occur through various inorganic reactions or as a result of the metabolic functions of microorganisms, plants, and animals. In the ecological context, however, ammonification refers to the processes by which organically bound forms of nitrogen occurring in dead biomass (such as amino acids and proteins) are oxidized into ammonia and ammonium. The ecological process of ammonification is carried out in soil and water by a great diversity of microbes and is one of the many types of chemical transformations that occur during the decomposition of dead organic matter.

Ammonification is a key component in the nitrogen cycle of ecosystems. The nitrogen cycle consists of a complex of integrated processes by which nitrogen circulates among its major compartments in the atmosphere, water, soil, and organisms. During various phases of the nitrogen cycle, this element is transformed among its various organic and inorganic compounds.

As with all components of the nitrogen cycle, the proper functioning of ammonification is critical to the health of ecosystems. In the absence of ammonification, organic forms of nitrogen would accumulate in large quantities. Because growing plants need access to inorganic forms of nitrogen, particularly ammonium and nitrate (NO3- ), the oxidation of organic nitrogen of dead biomass through ammonification is necessary for maintenance of the productivity of species and ecosystems.

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