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Nitrogen and Phosphorus Cycles Martha E. Rosemeyer IES January 29, 2003.

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Presentation on theme: "Nitrogen and Phosphorus Cycles Martha E. Rosemeyer IES January 29, 2003."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nitrogen and Phosphorus Cycles Martha E. Rosemeyer IES January 29, 2003

2 One of three dynamic processes of ecosystems §Energy flow §Nutrient cycles §Succession

3 Energy flows from the sun to entropy through a functioning food web

4 Two types of nutrient cycles §Volatile l atmospheric reservior l N, S §Non-volatile l No atmospheric reservior l P, K, Ca, Mg all micronutrients


6 Nitrogen cycle 2 3 Gliessman, 1998 modified N2ON2N2ON2 Nitrification

7 N Pool Size (Stocks) are relatively big Atmosphereg N10 21 Terrestrial biomass g N 10 15 Soil organic matter g N 10 15

8 Flows small Rate limiting steps with respect to getting N into terrestrial system: §Via lightning (very small) §Via Biological N Fixation l natural l legume crops §Via Industrial fixation of fertilizer §Via Fossil fuel burning

9 What is biological nitrogen fixation (BNF)? §Second most important biochemical reaction of ecosystem after photosynthesis to life on earth §Involves the reduction of N from molecular state N 2 to NH 3 in which form it can be incorporated into an organic (C containing) molecular structure §Involves microbes

10 BNF §Regardless of organism uses nitrogenase enzyme for to fix N 2 to ammonia NH 3 §NH 3 + org. acids amino acids proteins


12 White clover, Trifolium repens “Trebol blanco” seed Temperate zone green manure crop

13 Nitrogen cycle: anthropogenic emissions Fertilizer 2 3 Gliessman 1998 modified N2ON2N2ON2 Fossil fuel burning

14 Human-caused NF = or greater Natural terrestrial BNF BNF from crops 40 x 10 12 g N fixed/yr Fertilizer industry 80 Fossil fuel burning20 Total human-caused 144 BNF terrestrial ecosystems100

15 Microbes: The Ancient Ones §Responsible for all major processes on earth, including decomposition and photosynthesis and nutrient cycling §Major cycles of Earth could continue without plants and animals §Most microbes are beneficial!

16 Most bacteria 99% cannot be cultured §Therefore we know little about them! A ton of microscopic bacteria may be active in each acre of soil. Bacteria dot the surface of strands of fungal hyphae. --Soil Biology Primer

17 Life on earth: starting with microbes §First N fixed by lightning and meteor impact §Formation of first amino acids and protein §N-fixation early because N-limited environment in water §Terrestrial system: P limited environment §Mycorrhizal fungi have allowed plants to become terrestrial

18 Nitrogen cycle:mediated by microbes 2 3 Gliessman 1998 modified = Microbial mediation

19 P Cycle §P is an important plant nutrient, anion §Released from soil, taken up by plants and released to soil §Green Rev ag is totally dependent on P rock § P rock is basically a valuable, non- renewable resource for agriculture l some deposits contaminated with Cd, Pb, As §10% of the P which is applied to land is flushed way causing eutrophication of lakes

20 Dead zone in Gulf of Mexico due to nutrients from Mississippi

21 The phosphorus cycle Gliessman 1998 = Microbial mediation mycorrhizae

22 P cycle Brady, 1999

23 Mycorrhizal fungus stained blue Non mycorrhizal Roots of Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) from Costa Rica

24 Components of association §fungus + root = mycor + rhiza §They are the rule, not the exception: Most of world’s vascular plants have association, except Brassicaceae (cabbage family) and a few other plant families §Fungus: takes up water and P, receives CHO from plant §Enables plants to live in low P, low water environments

25 Mycorrhizae aid soil aggregation Mycorrhizal fungi link root cells to soil particles. In this photo, sand grains are bound to a root by hyphae from endophytes (fungi similar to mycorrhizae), and by polysaccharides secreted by the plant and the fungi. Credit: Jerry Barrow, USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, Las Cruces, NM.

26 Closing nutrient cycles §Making the cycle circular §The nutrient comes back to the “stock” or “pool” that it started with-- none is lost §In a human time frame §This is an important component of sustainability

27 Chinese have used “night soil” for centuries to close nutrient cycle

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