Advertisement

A Mathematic Approach to Nitrogen Fixation Through Earth History

  • Alfonso Delgado-Bonal
  • F. Javier Martín-Torres
Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings book series (ASSSP, volume 35)

Abstract

Nitrogen is essential for life as we know it. According to phylogenetic studies, all organisms capable of fixing nitrogen are prokaryotes, both bacteria and archaea, suggesting that nitrogen fixation and ammonium assimilation were metabolic features of the Last Universal Common Ancestor of all organisms. At present time the amount of biologically fixed nitrogen is around \(2 \times 1{0}^{13}\,\mathrm{g/year}\) (Falkowski 1997), an amount much larger than the corresponding to the nitrogen fixed abiotically (between 2. 6 ×109 and \(3 \times 1{0}^{11}\,\mathrm{g/year}\)) (Navarro-González et al. 2001). The current amount of nitrogen fixed is much higher than it was on Earth before the Cambrian explosion, where the symbiotic associations with leguminous plants, the major nitrogen fixer currently, did not exist and nitrogen was fixed only by free-living organisms as cyanobacteria. It has been suggested (Navarro-González et al. 2001) that abiotic sources of nitrogen fixation during Early Earth times could have an important role triggering a selection pressure favoring the evolution of nitrogenase and an increase in the nitrogen fixation rate. In this study we present briefly a method to analyze the amount of fixed nitrogen, both biotic and abiotic, through Earth’s history.

Keywords

Nitrogen Cycle Denitrification Rate Growth Constant Biological Fixation Cambrian Explosion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

ADB acknowledges INTA grant TD 04/10 and JMT acknowledges Spanish Government PIE201050I025 and AYA2011-25720 grant.

References

  1. Awramik, S.M.: Ancient stromatolites and microbial mats. In: Cohen, Y, Castenholz, R.W., Halvoson, H.O. (eds.) Microbial Mats: Stromatolites, pp. 1–22. Alan R. Liss Inc., New York (1984)Google Scholar
  2. Barns, S.M., Delwiche, C.F., Palmer, J.D., Pace, N.R.: Perspectives on archaeal diversity, thermophily and monophyly from environmental rRNA sequences. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93, 9188–9193 (1996)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Catling, D.C., Kasting, J.F.: Planetary atmospheres and life. In: Sullivan, W., Baross, J. (eds.) Planets and Life: The Emerging Science of Astrobiology, pp. 91–116. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2007)Google Scholar
  4. Demoling, F., Figueroa, D.: Comparison of factors limiting bacterial growth in different soils. Soil Biol. Biochem. 39(10), 2485–2495 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ehrlich, H.L.: Geomicrobiology. Marcel Dekker Inc, Basel (1996)Google Scholar
  6. Falkowski, P.G.: Evolution of the nitrogen cycle and its influence on the biological sequestration of CO2 in the ocean. Nature 387, 272–275 (1997)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hill, R.D., Rinker, R.G., Wilson, H.D.: Atmospheric nitrogen fixation by lightning. J. Atmos. Sci. 37, 179–192 (1980)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kasting, J.F.: Earth’s early atmosphere. Science 259(5097), 920–926 (1993)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kasting, J.F., Walker, J.C.G.: Limits on oxygen concentrations in the prebiological atmosphere and rate of abiotic fixation of nitrogen. J. Geophys. Res. 86, 1147–1158 (1981)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Do-Hee Kim, Osamu Matsuda, Tamiji Yakamoto: Nitrification, Denitrification and Nitrate Reduction Rates in the Sediment of Hiroshima Bay, Japan. J. Oceanogr. 53, 317–324 (1997)Google Scholar
  11. Malthus, T.R.: An Essay on the Principle Population. J. Johnson, London (1798)Google Scholar
  12. Mancinelli, R.L., McKay, C.P.: Evolution of nitrogen cycling. Orig. Life 18, 311–325 (1998)ADSGoogle Scholar
  13. Mojzsis, S.J., Arrhenius, G., McKeegan, K.D., Harrison, T.M., Nutman, A.P., Friend, C.R.L.: Evidence for life on Earth before 3,800 million years ago. Nature 384, 55–59 (1996)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Navarro-González, R., McKay, C.P., Mvondo, D.N.: A possible nitrogen crisis for Archaean life due to reduced nitrogen fixation by lightning. Nature 412, 61–64 (2001)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Papineau, D., Mojzsis, S.J., Karhu, J.A., Marty, B.: Nitrogen isotopic composition of ammoniated phyllosilicates: case studies from Precambrian metamorphosed sedimentary rocks. Chem. Geol. 216(1–2), 37–58 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Papineau, D., Walker, J.J., Mojzsis, S.J., Pace, N.R.: Composition and structure of microbial communities from stromatolites of Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 71(8), 4822–4832 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ratkowsky, D.A., Olley, J., McMeekin, T.A., Ball, A.: Relationship between temperature and growth rate of bacterial cultures. J. Bacteriol. 149(1), 1–5 (1982)Google Scholar
  18. Savage, V.M., Gillooly, J.F., Brown, J.H., West, G.B., Charnov, E.L.: Effects of body size and temperature on population growth. Am. Nat. 163, 429–441 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Verhust, P.F.: Notice sur la loi que la population suit dans son accroissement. Corr. Math. Phys. 10, 113 (1838)Google Scholar
  20. Walter, M.R., Heys, G.R.: Links between the rise of the metazoa and the decline of stromatolites. Precambrian Res. 29(1–3), 149–174 (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Whitton, B.A., Potts, M. (eds.): The Ecology of Cyanobacteria; Their Diveristy in Time and Space. Kluwer Academic Publishers, New York, 39(3), 466 (2001).  doi10.1023/A:1015127720748
  22. Whitman, W.B., Coleman, D.C., Wiebe, W.J.: Prokaryotes: the unseen majority. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 95, 6578–6583 (1998)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfonso Delgado-Bonal
    • 1
  • F. Javier Martín-Torres
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)Torrejón de ArdozSpain

Personalised recommendations