Nitrogen fixation

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Nitrogen fixation is the process by which nitrogen is taken from its relatively inert molecular form (N2) in the atmosphere and converted into nitrogen compounds (such as, notably, ammonia, nitrate and nitrogen dioxide) [1] useful for other chemical processes.

Nitrogen fixation is performed naturally by a number of different prokaryotes, including bacteria, and actinobacteria certain types of anaerobic bacteria. Microorganisms that fix nitrogen are called diazotrophs. Some higher plants, and some animals (termites), have formed associations with diazotrophs.

Nitrogen fixation also occurs as a result of non-biological processes. These include lightning, industrially through the Haber-Bosch Process, and combustion.

Biological nitrogen fixation was discovered by the Dutch microbiologist Martinus Beijerinck.