Ammonia is found in small quantities as the carbonate in the atmosphere, being produced from the putrefaction of nitrogenous animal and vegetable matter; ammonium salts are also found in small quantities in rain-water, whilst ammonium chloride (sal-ammoniac) and ammonium sulphate are found in volcanic districts; and crystals of ammonium bicarbonate have been found in Patagonian guano.
Magnesium ammonium phosphate, MgNH 4 PO 4.6H 2 O, is found as the mineral struvite and in some guanos; it occurs also in urinary calculi and is formed in the putrefaction of urine.
The first class include such changes as the alcoholic fermentation of sugar solutions, the acetic acid fermentation of alcohol, the lactic acid fermentation of milk sugar, and the putrefaction of animal and vegetable nitrogenous matter.
Those parts nearest the fly and best supplied develop barren hyphae only; in a zone at the periphery, where the products of putrefaction dissolved in the water form a dilute but easily accessible supply, the zoosporangia are developed in abundance; oogonia, however, are only formed in the depths of this radiating mycelium, where the supplies of available food materials are least abundant.
The temperature at which the limb is kept, no doubt, favours and hastens the natural process of destruction, so that putrefaction shows itself sooner than would be the case with a dead tissue removed from the body and kept at a lower temperature.
In 1862 Pasteur repeated and extended such experiments, and paved the way for a complete explanation of the anomalies; Cohn in 1872 published confirmatory results; and it became clear that no putrefaction can take place without bacteria or some other living organism.
The formation of the blue mud is largely aided by the putrefaction of organic matter, and as a result the water deeper than 120 fathoms is extraordinarily deficient in dissolved oxygen and abounds in sulphuretted hydrogen, the formation of which is brought about by a special bacterium, the only form of life found at depths greater than 120 fathoms in the Black Sea.
The oil separates from the fat-cells and is found lying free, while the sulphuretted hydrogen evolved as one of the products of putrefaction reacts upon the iron of the blood and throws down a precipitate of sulphide of iron, which in course of time imparts to the limb a range of colour commencing in green and terminating in black.
In 1697 Georg Stahl admitted that fermentation and putrefaction were analogous processes, but that the former was a particular case of the latter.
In the end much inorganic nitrogen salts must be added to the sea both in the above way and as the result of the putrefaction of the dead substance of terrestrial animals and plants.