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Conversion of organic materials into inorganic materials.
Decomposition, carried to its natural end point, results in mineralization. Though it can the case that mineralized elements are no longer necessarily immediately available, e.g., organic carbon converted to carbon dioxide, often these elements instead become generally available again to organisms – that is, not just to decomposers – only once they have been fully mineralized; for example, the mineralization of proteins and their constituent amino acids to plant-available ions (particularly ammonium ion and nitrate ion).
Mineralization contributes directly to the cycling of many nutrients within ecosystems such as nitrogen and phosphorus (i.e., see nitrogen cycle and phosphorous cycle.
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