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Nitrogen Fixation vs. Nitrification — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on November 1, 2023
Nitrogen Fixation is the process of converting atmospheric nitrogen (N₂) into ammonia (NH₃), while Nitrification converts ammonia to nitrites and nitrates.
Nitrogen Fixation vs. Nitrification — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Nitrogen Fixation and Nitrification

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Key Differences

Nitrogen Fixation refers to the biological or physical conversion of atmospheric nitrogen (N₂) into a form usable by plants, mainly ammonia (NH₃). Nitrification, on the other hand, is a two-step microbial process that converts ammonia to nitrites (NO₂⁻) and then to nitrates (NO₃⁻).
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023
Nitrogen Fixation plays a foundational role in the nitrogen cycle by making atmospheric nitrogen accessible to living organisms. In contrast, Nitrification further refines nitrogen's form, preparing it for either plant absorption or the next stages of the nitrogen cycle.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023
In nature, Nitrogen Fixation is primarily carried out by certain bacteria, including those living symbiotically with legume plants. These bacteria possess a unique enzyme, nitrogenase, which enables the fixation process. Nitrification, however, is facilitated by specific aerobic bacteria that oxidize ammonia to produce nitrites and subsequently nitrates.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023
Though both processes are crucial for the sustenance of ecosystems, Nitrogen Fixation and Nitrification cater to different phases of the nitrogen cycle. While Nitrogen Fixation introduces usable nitrogen into biological systems, Nitrification ensures its optimization for plant and microbial consumption.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023
The distinction between Nitrogen Fixation and Nitrification underscores the intricate balance and stages in the nitrogen cycle. Both processes are vital for maintaining the health and productivity of terrestrial ecosystems and aquatic systems alike.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Conversion of atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia
Conversion of ammonia to nitrites and nitrates
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023

Main Agents

Certain bacteria, including symbiotic legume bacteria
Specific aerobic bacteria
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Nov 01, 2023

Role in Nitrogen Cycle

Introduces usable nitrogen to biological systems
Refines form of nitrogen for plant/microbial consumption
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Nov 01, 2023

Main Biological Molecules

Nitrogenase enzyme
Oxidizing agents
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Nov 01, 2023

Outcome

Ammonia (NH₃)
Nitrites (NO₂⁻) and Nitrates (NO₃⁻)
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Nitrogen Fixation

Atmospheric nitrogen's conversion to ammonia.
Legumes aid in Nitrogen Fixation through symbiotic relationships with bacteria.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

Nitrification

Process preparing nitrogen for subsequent stages in its cycle.
Nitrification plays a pivotal role in nutrient cycling in soils.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

Nitrogen Fixation

Process making nitrogen available for biological use.
Nitrogen Fixation is a vital first step in the nitrogen cycle.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

Nitrification

Transformation of ammonia to nitrites and nitrates.
Nitrification ensures plants receive nitrogen in an absorbable form.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

Nitrogen Fixation

Natural method of replenishing soil nitrogen.
Crop rotation often includes legumes to benefit from Nitrogen Fixation.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

Nitrification

Oxidative conversion of nitrogen compounds.
Proper Nitrification can reduce the toxicity of certain aquatic environments.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

Nitrogen Fixation

The biological assimilation of N₂ to NH₃.
Nitrogen Fixation enriches soil, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

Nitrification

Two-step bacterial conversion in the nitrogen cycle.
Nitrification is essential for the health of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

Nitrogen Fixation

The act of rendering atmospheric nitrogen usable.
Without Nitrogen Fixation, many ecosystems would lack essential nutrients.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

Nitrification

The biological oxidation of ammonia.
Wastewater treatment plants often rely on Nitrification processes.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

Nitrification

To oxidize (an ammonia compound) into a nitrite or (a nitrite) into a nitrate, especially by the action of nitrifying bacteria.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 06, 2023

Nitrification

To treat or combine with nitrogen or compounds containing nitrogen.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 06, 2023

Nitrification

The process of nitrifying
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Oct 06, 2023

Nitrification

The act, process, or result of combining with nitrogen or some of its compounds.
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Oct 06, 2023

Nitrification

A process of oxidation, in which nitrogenous vegetable and animal matter in the presence of air, moisture, and some basic substances, as lime or alkali carbonate, is converted into nitrates.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 06, 2023

Nitrification

The chemical process in which a nitro group is added to an organic compound (or substituted for another group in an organic compound)
Fiza Rafique
Oct 06, 2023

Nitrification

The oxidation of ammonium compounds in dead organic material into nitrates and nitrites by soil bacteria (making nitrogen available to plants)
Fiza Rafique
Oct 06, 2023

Common Curiosities

How does Nitrification differ from Nitrogen Fixation?

While Nitrogen Fixation converts atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia, Nitrification transforms ammonia into nitrites and then nitrates.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023

What is Nitrogen Fixation?

Nitrogen Fixation is the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen (N₂) into ammonia (NH₃) by certain bacteria.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023

In what environment does Nitrification occur?

Nitrification is an aerobic process, occurring in oxygen-rich environments.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023

What are the main agents in Nitrification?

Specific aerobic bacteria are responsible for Nitrification.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023

Why is Nitrogen Fixation essential?

Nitrogen Fixation makes atmospheric nitrogen accessible to plants and other organisms.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023

Are legumes involved in Nitrogen Fixation?

Yes, legumes have symbiotic relationships with bacteria that facilitate Nitrogen Fixation.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023

What role does Nitrification play in the nitrogen cycle?

Nitrification refines the form of nitrogen, preparing it for plant absorption or subsequent nitrogen cycle stages.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023

Can Nitrogen Fixation occur without bacteria?

While primarily facilitated by bacteria, Nitrogen Fixation can also occur through non-biological processes like lightning.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023

How does Nitrogen Fixation benefit agriculture?

Nitrogen Fixation enriches soils with usable nitrogen, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 01, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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