—Hotly Fixated On Nitrogen “Newly discovered microbe reduces N2 to NH3 at record-high temperatures” A microbe with a penchant for reducing dinitrogen in steamy hydrothermal vents has set a new high-temperature record for this enzymatic activity (Science 2006, 314, 1783). Although N2 accounts for 70% of the dissolved gas in seawater, most microbes cannot use N2 itself as a nitrogen source. Instead they require that N2 be converted into useful building blocks such as NH3 in a process called nitrogen fixation. But researchers had observed this conversion only in shallow waters by photosynthetic bacteria. "Nitrogen fixation in hydrothermal vents had been speculated, but nobody had actually isolated a microorganism that could do it," says lead author Mausmi P.
by Sarah Everts |
December 18, 2006