Navigation Links
Nature's process for nitrogen fixation caught in action

Nitrogen gas is converted to ammonia fertilizer by a chemical process that involves high temperature and high pressure. Nature does the same thing at ambient temperature and pressure. The process, called nitrogen fixation, is essential to life as it provides nutrients to plant life.

A research team from Utah State University, Virginia Tech, and Northwestern University asked whether the biological process, carried out by microbes that contain the enzyme nitrogenase, follows the same pathway as recently reported chemical methods. Their research method resulted in the ability to witness steps in the biological process that enables some microorganisms to convert atmospheric nitrogen to nutrients.

The research is reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) Special Feature Issue on Nitrogen Fixation, in the invited article, "A methyldiazene (HN=N-CH3) derived species bound to the nitrogenase active-site FeMo cofactor: Implications for mechanism," by Brett M. Barney of Utah State, Dmitriy Lukoyanov and Tran-Chin Yang of Northwestern, Dennis Dean at Virginia Tech, Brian M. Hoffman of Northwestern, and Lance C. Seefeldt of Utah State.

Dean, director of the Fralin Biotechnology Center at Virginia Tech, performed the genetics and molecular biology. The Utah Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry performed the biochemistry and the biophysics research was carried out in the Northwestern Department of Chemistry.

An enzyme is a protein that induces chemical changes in another substance. "Such reactions involve several stages in the reduction pathway," Dean said. "Nitrogenase activity is particularly complex because there are many intermediate stages between nitrogen gas (N2) and ammonia (NH3) that require adding electrons and protons."

In order to trap the process at a specific stage, the researchers synthesized a mimic of an intermediate compound in the pathway, and then followed its progress. The PNAS ar ticle talks about the challenge of identifying, trapping, synthesizing, and inserting the mimic and methods for observing the reduction of N2.

Hoffman, Dean and Seefeldt have been working for years to figure out how to trap and characterize nitrogenase intermediates. Their success was reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and in Chemical and Engineering News in 2005. So, does the biological process follow the same pathway as the chemical process? "Our research suggests it does not," said Dean. "Nature appears to do it differently."

Source:Virginia Tech

Related biology news :

1. Virologists make major step towards understanding the process of HIV infection
2. Researchers pioneer new gene therapy technique using natural repair process
3. Studies reveal how plague disables immune system, and how to exploit the process to make a vaccine
4. Genomic sequences processed in minutes, rather than weeks
5. Multi-species genome comparison sheds new light on evolutionary processes, cancer mutations
6. Carnegie Mellon University research reveals how cells process large genes
7. Elderly mice yield clues to the process of growing old
8. Insight into the processes of positive and negative learners
9. New processing method reduces peanut allergenicity
10. Green diesel: New process makes liquid transportation fuel from plants
11. Brain activity related to processing faces is similar in people with, without autism

Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  Connected health pioneer, Joseph C. Kvedar ... technology-enabled health and wellness, and the business opportunities that ... The Internet of Healthy Things . Long before ... existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, ... moving care from the hospital or doctor,s office into ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015 Today, LifeBEAM , ... with 2XU, a global leader in technical performance ... hat with advanced bio-sensing technology. The hat will ... monitor key biometrics to improve overall training performance. ... two companies will bring together the most advanced technology, ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... 2015 Munich, Germany ... technology (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking ... , so that they can be quantitatively analyzed with ... Munich, Germany , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s Automated ... mobile eye tracking videos created with SMI,s Eye ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia , Nov. 24, 2015 ... the global contract research organisation (CRO) market. The ... to result in lower margins but higher volume ... With increased capacity and scale, however, margins in ... Contract Research Organisation (CRO) Market ( ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or ... financial results for the quarter ended September 30, ... Canadian dollars and presented under International Financial Reporting ... ," said Andrew Rae , President ... iCo-008 are not only value enriching for this ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical ... today announced that the company has set a new quarterly earnings ... on quarter growth posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of ... Mexico , with the establishment of an ... --> United Kingdom and Mexico ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... SHPG ) announced today that Jeff Poulton , ... Annual Healthcare Conference in New York City ... (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> SHPG ) announced today that ... Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> Shire ...
Breaking Biology Technology: