Solving the Nitrogen Fixation Mystery
Inspired by a natural process found in certain bacteria, a team of Caltech researchers is inching closer to a new method for producing fertilizer that could some day hold benefits for farmers — particularly in the developing world — while also shedding light on a biological mystery.
Fertilizers are chemical sources of nutrients that are otherwise lacking in soil. Most commonly, fertilizers supply the element nitrogen, which is essential for all living things, as it is a fundamental building block of DNA, RNA, and proteins. Nitrogen gas is very abundant on Earth, making up 78 percent of our atmosphere. However, most organisms cannot use nitrogen in its gaseous form.
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