Recylcing of Elements in Ecosystems

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  • Recylcing of Elements in Ecosystems
    • Carbon Cycle
      • Carbon forms the backbone of organic compounds (carbs, lipids, proteins...)
      • Carbon is fixed in organic compounds by photosynthesis
        • Then released into the atmosphere by respiration
          • Any not released in repsiration is trapped in fossil fuels
            • Released by combustion
          • Carbon Cycle
            • Carbon forms the backbone of organic compounds (carbs, lipids, proteins...)
            • Carbon is fixed in organic compounds by photosynthesis
              • Then released into the atmosphere by respiration
                • Any not released in repsiration is trapped in fossil fuels
                  • Released by combustion
    • Nitrogen Cycle
      • Nitrgen is an essential element in proteins, nucleic acid (DNA) and ATP
      • 1. Plants absorb nitrogen in the form of nitrates and combine them with carbs to form amino acids etc.
      • 2. Nitrogen eventually ends up in non-living material such as dead matter or faeces and urine (urea)
      • 3. Nitrogen-rich matter is broken down by decomposers (bacteria and fungi) via extra-cellular digestion. This is saprophytic decay
      • 4. The final part of the break down is ammonification. Production of ammonium compounds from amino acids etc
      • 5. Ammonium ions used by nitrifying bacteria (chemoautotrophs which obtain there energy from the oxidation of (ammonium) ions). This is Nitrification
      • 6. During nitrification ammonuim ions are converted to nitrites then nitrates which can then be absorbed by plants
      • The Loss and Gain of Nitrogen from the Atmosphre
        • Denitrifying bacteria turn nitrate in nitrogen gas. This is not in a useful form for plant to absorb
          • Denitrifying bactera respire anaerobically so thrive in waterlogged soil and other areas of low oxygen conc.
        • Nitrogen fixation
          • Lightening can split the triple nitrogen bonds changing it to nitrates
          • Nitrogen fixing bacteria. Can be free living or mutualistic
            • NB if the gene for the nitrogen fixing enzyme can be inserted into other plants it will remove the need for fertilisers
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