Free «Anabeana and Nitrogen Fixation» Essay Sample

Anabeana and Nitrogen Fixation

Introduction

Nitrogen is the most abundant gas in the atmosphere, accounting for 78% of the atmospheric gas. However, this gas is not useful due to its form of existence, for its utilization in the nitrogen fixation process must occur. Nitrogen fixation is a natural process through which there is the conversion of atmospheric oxygen into ammonium occurs. Nitrogen in the atmosphere is usually chemically inert, it means that it does not react easily with other chemical components in its diatomic form (N2). Therefore, it needs to become reactive. Such process is called nitrogen fixation. Nitrogen fixation refers to biological or non-biological processes where there is a nitrogen conversion into other forms that include nitrogen dioxide, nitrates, nitrites and other forms that are important to industrial processes.

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The process of nitrogen fixation is a cyclic combination of the natural process that ultimately culminates in conversion of free atmospheric nitrogen to a more important form. It is a combination of the work of hydrolysis of 16 ATP molecules to yield one molecule of hydrogen and ammonia. Nitrogenase enzyme is critical in this process because this process needs to accelerate at a pace that can sustain all life forms. Enzymes that participate in this chain of reactions are susceptible to oxygen condition. Therefore, it explains why the process is significantly anaerobic. Many bacteria in this process inhibit production of the enzyme nitrogenase, as a result, many nitrogen-fixing microorganisms exist in low or no oxygen environment (Bothe 14).

According to Virtenem, for nitrogen fixation to be accomplished several biotic factors play a role in the nitrogen cycle (237-248). Anabeana that is a filamentous cyanobacteria and often exists as plankton has a significant role in life-sustaining process. As one of the biggest group referred to as diazotrophs, anabeana inhabit illuminated environments and are by extension key players in the carbon cycle. Further, this group of organisms called cyanobacteria can utilize a combination of amino acids, nitrate, urea and ammonia in a symbiotic way with the environment. One of the natural abilities of anabeana is the ability to fix nitrogen. Secondly, the interactive symbiotic ability of anabeana with other plants, such as mosquito fern, in the process of nitrogen fixation is a critical natural process that helps to tap the abundant gas to more beneficial forms.

Moreover, this organism has a unique character that enables its survival in the face of extinction. It is one of the genera in cyanobacteria that have the ability to produce neurotoxins. Neurotoxins refer to the toxic substance that is harmful to both wildlife and farm animals, is, therefore, believed that it is one of its adaptive mechanisms against grazing pressure. Having known the process what is the role of anabeana in nitrogen fixation?

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A DNA sequencing study that was conducted in 1999 revealed that a completely mapped genome of anabeana had 7.2 million pairs that make up the entire organism. Further microscopic study reveals the presence of loci called heterocysts that are critical in nitrogen fixation (William et al. 67). In a natural environment, the heterocyst taps the free nitrogen from the atmospheric air and converts it to ammonia. Certainly, the natural process is a system of an intricate process that allows balancing atmospheric air and anabeana critically accomplishing this natural series of processes.

Under nitrogen-limiting state, the entire vegetative cells of anabeana undergo a systematic transformation into heterocysts. As identified earlier, these heterocysts are specialized cells to carry out nitrogen fixation. The process is a bit complex, however, in limited supply of nitrogen the interior of heterocysts is often microoxic meaning limited oxygen inside the nitrogen-fixing cells. Increased respiration and lowered metabolism coupled with inactivation of oxygen photo system are the reasons for reduced cell oxygenation and trigger of a series of reaction that will fix nitrogen (Brentrup et al. 229).

As a result of above physiologic changes, the heterocyst forms a thickened waall that encloses its contents and the optimal condition for nitrogen fixation. Nitrogen is initially converted to nitrogenase that is sequestered inside these cells. During this sequestration, there is the conversion of nitrogenase into dinitrogen first as the first stage of ammonium production. Dinitrogen under favorable conditions further undergoes conversion into ammonium instead of ATP.

In the presence of light, the energy tapped by the activity of Photo System (PS) allows for the metabolism of sucrose and complex sugars inside the vegetative cell of anabeana and return nitrogen is fixed. After the process, the created heterocyst moves back into vegetative anabeana in form of Amino Acid. There are several benefits, why nitrogen fixation by anabeana or any other natural system is an area of interest.  If fixed nitrogen provides ammonium that is industrially used to produce fertilizer, nitrogen fixation by leguminous plants allows direct absorption of environmental nitrogen conversion into nitrates that are more beneficial to farmers due to rich nutrient intake by plant and abundance of nitrates when the plant dies. It is worth noting that the nitrogen-fixation is essential to life because nucleotides, DNA and RNA are crucial products of this process and key in any life forms. Therefore, without this process there will be no life (Lamarque 146).

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Certainly, the Haber process that artificially utilizes nitrogen fixing process to manufacture fertilizer is the biggest human-nitrogen fixation in the ecosystem. The reason for existence of scientific interest that attempts to tap anabeana nitrogen fixation ability is motivated by adventurous scholars with a view of designing natural nitrogen fixation process and meticulously linking the systems to large scale production of ammonia plant. Ammonia is a key requirement in fertilizer production and explosives products, anabeana fixes nitrogen through natural means and tapping its final product has proved to be scientifically challenged (Mosier 28). The bottom line of interest in anabeana nitrogen-fixing ability lies in the continued industrial analysis and trials.

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