Lightning can produce bioavailable nitrogen oxides, but it is unknown whether this was a substantial nutrient source for Earth’s earliest biosphere. Comparison of nitrogen isotope measurements from spark discharge experiments to those from the rock record suggests that lightning was likely not the main source of bioavailable nitrogen for the biosphere throughout most of Earth’s history.
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This is a summary of: Barth, P. et al. Isotopic constraints on lightning as a source of fixed nitrogen in Earth’s early biosphere. Nat. Geosci. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-023-01187-2 (2023).
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Isotopic constraints on the contribution of lightning-produced nutrients to Earth’s early biosphere. Nat. Geosci. 16, 472–473 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-023-01189-0