Plants are not capable of directly utilizing atmospheric nitrogen. A few bacteria help in converting atmospheric nitrogen into forms that can be used by plants. Plants acquire nitrates from the soil through their roots and transform them into proteins. When animals feed on these plants, the proteins enter their bodies. Later, when these animals die, the nitrogen compounds inside their bodies break down into ammonia and this process is known as ammonification.

Ammonification is a part of the nitrogen cycle, where organisms are provided with essential nitrogen that they need to survive. Ammonification is the process where microscopic organisms like bacteria or other types of decomposing organisms, break down nitrogen-containing chemicals from dead organic matter, into simple substances like ammonia. These simpler substances help in sustaining the ecosystem.

In simple terms, ammonification is the process of converting natural nitrogen compounds into ammonia.

Implications of Ammonification

  • Through the process of ammonification, organic nitrogen is converted into inorganic ammonia or ammonium ions. Organic nitrogen is the manner in which nitrogen is found in compounds in living organisms.
  • Certain examples of nitrogen-containing compounds in living organisms include ions, proteins, vitamin B, urea and so on.
  • In ammonification, dead plants or animal bodies and their waste products contain nitrogen.
  • Nitrogen in the ecosystem should be available in the form that can be used by living species. This is where ammonification plays an important role, as they provide nitrogen to the soil in a manner that lets plants use nitrogen and pass it through the food chain.
  • For many species of plants surviving on acidic soils, ammonification is the best method to obtain nitrogen.
  • When fertilizers are added into the soil to increase ammonia levels, it might cause an overgrowth of algae, which results in toxicity of soil and imbalance in ecosystems.

Example of Ammonification

  1. Examples of ammonifying bacteria contain bacillus, proteus, clostridium, pseudomonas and streptomyces.

Frequently Asked Questions on Ammonification


What are the products of ammonification?

The products of ammonification are ammonia and ammonium ions.


When does ammonification occur?

Ammonification occurs during the process of nitrogen fixation.


Which bacteria is involved in ammonification?

The bacteria in the ammonification process is known as ammonifying bacteria.

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