What are two functions of bacteria in the nitrogen cycle?

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Bacteria break the bonds in hydrogen gas molecules and allow the free nitrogen to bond with hydrogen to form ammonium. Ammonium is an ion that is readily absorbed by plants. These are nitrogen-fixing bacteria. There are some that have formed a symbiotic relationship with legumes.

Bacteria release nitrogen bound up in formerly living things through the process of ammonification or decomposition. These bacteria convert the nitrogen from dead organisms into ammonium ions.

Bacteria provide plants with a usable form of nitrogen that they would be unable to get if all the available nitrogen were in the form of a gas.


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