Nitrogen Cycle NASA

Nitrogen is present in the environment in a wide variety of chemical forms including organic nitrogen, ammonium (NH+4), nitrite (NO−2), nitrate (NO−3), nitrous oxide (N2O), nitric oxide (NO) or inorganic nitrogen gas (N2). Organic nitrogen may be in the form of a living organism, humus or in the intermediate products of organic matter decomposition. The processes in the nitrogen cycle is to transform nitrogen from one form to another. Many of those processes are carried out by microbes, either in their effort to harvest energy or to accumulate nitrogen in a form needed for their growth. For example, the nitrogenous wastes in animal urine are broken down by nitrifying bacteria in the soil to be used by plants. The diagram alongside shows how these processes fit together to form the nitrogen cycle.