Nitrogen Losses in Green Plants


A FEATURE of the nitrogen metabolism of plants which has received little attention is the possibility of considerable losses of nitrogen during the process of nitrate reduction. It is generally agreed that this process leads first to the production of nitrites, and the presence of nitrites in plants actively engaged in nitrate reduction has been shown by Eggleton1. As plant tissues are normally acid, nitrous acid should be present, and this should combine with mono-amino nitrogen to give elementary nitrogen. It is well known that this reaction is rapid in vitro2. It has been shown by Irving and Hankinson3 that Elodea produces elementary nitrogen when immersed in solutions containing nitrates and asparagine as a source of amino-nitrogen.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Biochem. J., 29, 1389 (1935).

  2. 2

    Van Slyke, J. Biol. Chem., 12, 375 (1912).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Biochem. J., 3, 87 (1907).

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

PEARSALL, W., BILLIMORIA, M. Nitrogen Losses in Green Plants. Nature 138, 801–802 (1936).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.