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Differentiate between: Autotrophs and heterotrophs

Last updated date: 22nd Jun 2024
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Hint: Organisms can be autotrophic or heterotrophic based on their mode of nutrition. Some make their own food while some depend on other organisms for their food.

Complete Answer:
Nutrition is the process through which an organism takes in food required for growth and development. All living organisms need food. Plants can produce food for themselves, but animals are unable to make their own food. They obtain food from plants or animals that eat plants. Humans and animals thus depend on plants, directly or indirectly, for food.

The difference between autotrophs and heterotrophs is given below:
1.Some organisms such as plants make their own food from simple substances. They are called autotrophs and the mode of nutrition is known autotrophic nutrition.Organisms that depend on plants or autotrophs for food are called heterotrophs and the mode of nutrition is known as heterotrophic nutrition.
2.Autotrophs are called producers as they make food required by all other organisms. Heterotrophs are called consumers as they consume food prepared by autotrophs.
3.In a food chain, autotrophs make up the first trophic levelHeterotrophs form the next trophic levels after plants in the food chain.
4.Plants, algae, and some bacteria are autotrophs.Most animals, fungi and some bacteria are heterotrophs.

Additional information: Heterotrophic nutrition is further divided into three types- saprotrophic nutrition, parasitic nutrition, and holozoic nutrition.
- Saprotrophs are the organisms that feed on the dead and decaying organic matter. Holozoic organisms are those groups of heterotrophs that consume solid food particles.
- Parasites are heterotrophs that are entirely dependent on other organisms for all forms of nutrition. They depend on a host for nutrition and form a parasitic relationship. They may sometimes cause harm to the host.

Note: All living organisms require energy to carry out different functions. This energy comes in the form of food. Thus, food is necessary for an organism's growth, development and to carry out life processes.