Sulfur Cycle Meaning

What is Sulfur Cycle:

The sulfur cycle refers to the biogeochemical cycle by which this chemical element can be found in nature in its various formssuch as sulfate.

The sulfur cycle It is considered one of the most complex chemical cycles in nature. since in its course, through the different ecosystems, sulfur experiences different oxidation states (this occurs when the chemical component combines with oxygen).

Sulfur, for its part, is a chemical element, not a metal and the tenth most abundant in the earth’s crust, it is of great importance and is identified with the symbol S. It is characterized by being pale yellow in color and having an aroma that is pretty nasty.

Also, sulfur is a nutrient of great importance in naturea, especially for plants and animals. It can be found in the soil or water, forming sulfates, or mixed with other elements.

See also the meaning of Biogeochemical Cycles.

sulfur cycle process

Here is how the sulfur cycle unfolds:

  1. In principle, plants absorb sulfur through the roots, which is found in the earth’s crust or in water in the form of sulfate and composes the salts or nutrients necessary to carry out their vital functions.
  2. Through this process, plants reduce sulfates to sulfides.
  3. Once in plants and vegetables, sulfur passes into the organism of herbivorous animals when they feed.
  4. Carnivorous animals then feed on herbivorous animals, which is why the sulfur continues its cycle and contributes its nutrients to these consumers.
  5. When carnivorous animals die, their bodies are left in the soil and decomposer organisms (bacteria and fungi) convert their animal remains back to sulfate as they break them down and reduce them to organic particles.
  6. The sulfur present in the amino acids of the animal carcasses passes into the soil, which is later transformed into hydrogen sulfide thanks to the bacteria and, in this way, the soil is enriched and nourished again.
  7. In this process the sulfur is oxidized to produce sulfate that will again be absorbed by the plants through their roots. In this way the cycle begins again.
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Sulfur also reaches the soil through animal feces, after decomposition.

Likewise, sulfur reaches the atmosphere as a gaseous compound such as sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, gases that are produced by volcanoes or fires and by the decomposition of organic matter generated by bacteria, both in the soil and in the water.

In this case, when hydrogen sulfide is in contact with oxygen, it oxidizes, thus generating sulfate that then falls on the soil and water through rain.

Conversely, sulfur dioxide can be absorbed by plants directly from the atmosphere.

See also the meaning of Nitrogen Cycle.