nitrogen cycle

nitrogen cycle
nitrogen cycle n a continuous series of natural processes by which nitrogen passes through successive stations in air, soil, and organisms and which principally involves nitrogen fixation, nitrification, decay, and denitrification

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the steps by which nitrogen is extracted from the nitrates of soil and water, incorporated as amino acids and proteins in living organisms, and ultimately reconverted to nitrates: (1) conversion of nitrogen to nitrates by bacteria; (2) the extraction of the nitrates by plants and the building of amino acids and proteins by addition of an amino group to the carbon compounds produced in photosynthesis; (3) the ingestion of plants by animals; and (4) the return of nitrogen to the soil in animal excretions or on the death and decomposition of plants and animals.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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