Difference between Autotrophs and Heterotrophs

By | January 5, 2022

Difference between Autotrophs and Heterotrophs

Autotrophs

Most plants are green. Green plants synthesize food for themselves. Nutrition in green plants is known as autotrophic nutrition and the organisms capable of making their own food are termed as autotrophs(auto means self; trophe means food). Green plants have green pigment(color) in their leaves. In some plants, this green pigment may also present in stem and some other part of the plant body. The green pigment is known as chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is present in the form of tablets known as chloroplasts.

Autotrophs making food by photosynthesis

Plants absorbs water from the soil with the help of their roots. This water is pushed up to the leaves through the stem. Leaves absorb carbon dioxide from the air around through pores called stomata(singular is stomata). Stomata are more on the underside of leaf than of its upper surface. Light energy from sunlight trapped by the chlorophyll, converted into chemical energy by the chloroplasts. Energy from the sun combines with water and carbon dioxide in the presence of chlorophyll to form food. This process is also known as photosynthesis.

Heterotrophs

Organisms which do not make their own food and depend for their food on other sources called heterotrophs. Plants which do not make their plants are heterotrophic plants. To obtain their food from other sources either completely or partially, depending upon the deficiency of their body. Eg: Humans, Animals, Hosts, Lichens, Mushrooms etc.

Heterotrophic plants may be:

Heterotrophs

  • Non-green(without chlorophyll), leafless and without normal roots. They depend totally for their food on others. These are total parasites.
  • May be green having chlorophyll but are rootless. They are able to synthesize their own food with the help of chlorophyll but depends on other sources for water and minerals. These are partial parasites.
  • Obtain their food from dead organic matter. These are called saprophytes or saprotrophs. Sapro means rotten; trophe means food.
  • Able to synthesize their food with the help of chlorophyll and obtain water with the help of roots but depends upon other sources for special nutrition(nitrogenous nutrition). These are insectivorous plants.

Difference between Autotrophs and Heterotrophs

Autotrophs Heterotrophs
Prepare their own food by photosynthesis. Cannot prepare their own food or depend for a part of their food on others.
Include chlorophyll in their cells, specially in leaves. May or may not have chlorophyll.
Depend upon sunlight for their production of food. Do not depend upon sunlight for heterotrophic nutrition.
Also known as producers. Also known as consumers.
Examples of autotrophs: Oak tree, crops, fern trees etc. Examples of heterotrophs: Animals, Humans, Mushroom, Lichens, Cuscuta, Rafflesia etc.