Where do algae get their nitrogen from?

Michael Dorsett Onken mdonken at artsci.wustl.edu
Sat Oct 24 15:34:59 EST 1998

axelboldt at my-dejanews.com wrote:
: Hi,

: how do cyano bacteria and algae take in nitrogen?

: Thanks,
:   Axel

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Algae get their nitrogen the same way higher plants do: from nitrates and
nitrogenous compounds in the water.

Cyanobacteria are a different story because they can also fix nitrogen,
i.e. convert elemental nitrogen, N2, into molecular nitrogen like ammonia.
Our atmosphere is 80% N2, and the gas is soluble in water, so there is
plenty of it available for them to fix.

(Nitrogen gas and ammonia are sufficiently small and non-polar to pass
directly through the plasma membrane without assistance.)

Mike Onken        -. .-.   .-. .-.   .  E-mail:
Molecular Cell    ||X|||\ /|||X|||\ /|   mdonken at artsci.wustl.edu
Biology Program   |/ \|||X|||/ \|||X||  URL:
Washington Univ.  '   `-' `-'   `-' `-   http://madsci.wustl.edu/

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