Nitrogen and living things
Nitrogen is the most abundant element in the atmosphere, however very few living things have the ability to use it in its gaseous form (N2). Because of this, the existence of bacteria capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen into compounds usable by other living beings is vital for the maintenance of most ecosystem. As a result of this need, many species, among them the insects have developed a symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The purpose of these partnerships is to be able to meet their needs for this element. Nitrogen obtained is then used mainly for the production of amino acids which are the building blocks for protein synthesis necessary the body.
Nitrogen and zompopas
The ecological success of leafcutter ants is derived largely from the combined capacity of ants to break the anti-fungal plant and the capacity of the fungal garden to neutralize toxins anti-insect plant barriers. However, the dependence of plant material in zompopas means that the colonies have a limited supply of nitrogen (N) due to the low percentage of this element in the leaf tissue, which is not enough to meet the needs of zompopas. Despite this, it has been described that this limitation has been overcome by ants by establishing symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The interaction between nitrogen fixing bacteria and differ from those zompopas as termites or fruit flies do not occur because the digestive tract of the insect. In the case of fixing zompopas it takes place in the fungal gardens, inside colonies. This system has proven successful to the extent that it has been estimated that a mature colony zompopas can contribute annually with about 1.8 kg of N fixed in neotropical ecosystems. Eating habits and waste management of zompopas have a significant impact on the structure of communities of neotropical plants. Because in the process of collecting large quantities of biomass (leaves), these ants play a critical role in nutrient cycling in ecosystems they inhabit. This assertion is based on the mounds of waste material generated by the ants could serve as a source of nutrients for plants that are around. These plants therefore absorb the necessary resources through the roots. Taking into account the wide distribution of ants in general, and zompopas, particularly in the Neotropics ecosystems, this means an immense source of nutrients, including N that is available in the ecosystem.