Biology

Difference between heterotroph and autotroph

Main difference

The key difference between heterotrophs and autotrophs is that heterotrophs are the organisms that cannot create their own food and are dependent on organic matter produced by other organisms, while autotrophs are the organisms that can produce their own food.

Heterotrophs versus autotrophs

Each organism in this universe has its own importance. There are different ways to divide these organisms into different groups. All organisms need food to survive or to obtain energy. So, according to their eating habits, organisms are divided into two main types, that is, heterotrophs and autotrophs. Heterotrophs are the organisms that cannot produce their own food and depend on other organisms for their food, while autotrophs are the organism that can produce their own food. Heterotrophs ingest other organisms for energy or food, while the heterotrophs ingest other organisms for energy or food. Autotrophs use inorganic material like water and carbon dioxide, etc. in the presence of sunlight to prepare its own food through photosynthesis or through chemical reactions.

Comparative chart

Heterotrophs Autotrophs
Heterotrophs are organisms that cannot make their food. Autotrophs are organisms that can make their own food.
Food
Heterotrophs obtain their food by ingesting in other organisms directly or indirectly. Autotrophs create their own food using inorganic material like water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight, etc.
The level in the food chain
They occupy the secondary or tertiary level of the food chain. They occupy the primary level of the food chain.
Energy
The secondary and tertiary levels carry less energy in the food chain than the primary level. The primary level occupies the maximum energy in the food chain.
Pigments
Heterotrophs do not require any pigment. Autotrophs have pigments like chlorophyll, etc. to produce its own food through photosynthesis.
Other names
They are also known as consumers. They are also known as producers.
Types
Heterotrophs are divided into two main types, namely chemoheterotrophs and photoheterotrophs. Autotrophs are divided into two main types, that is, photoautotrophs and chemoautotrophs.
Example
Birds, animals, and some protozoa are heterotrophs. Green plants are autotrophic
What are heterotrophs?

The term heterotroph emerged in microbiology in 1946. It is a Greek term derived from ” heteros ” meaning “other” and ” trophus ” meaning “nutrition.” So, heterotrophs are the organisms that cannot produce their food and feed on other living organisms. Almost 95% or more of all organisms are heterotrophs. They get their energy by ingesting other organisms. They occupy the secondary or tertiary level in the food chain and are also known as consumers.

Types

  • Photoheterotrophs are heterotrophs that use light for energy, for example green bacteria without sulfur.
  • Chemoheterotrophs are the heterotrophs that use chemical energy, eg fungi and humans.

Example

Animals, birds, and some protozoa, etc., are heterotrophs.

What are autotrophs?

An autotroph is also a Greek term coined by the German botanist Albert Bernhard Frank in 1892. It is derived from “autos” which means “I” and “trophe” which means “nutritious.” So these are the organisms that can prepare their own food. They use inorganic material to create organic matter for their survival. Autotrophs use water from the soil and carbon dioxide from the air in the presence of sunlight to produce organic matter in the form of glucose or carbohydrates. These carbohydrates provide building material and energy to work with the producers. Only 1% of the energy that comes from the sun is absorbed by autotrophs to produce their food through photosynthesis. They occupy the primary level in the food chain and is the highest energy level. The maximum energy in the food chain is present at this level, and they are also known as producers. Producers are the fundamental group of our ecosystem. Photosynthesis or producers provide more than 99% of the energy for life on earth.

Types

  • Photoautotrophs are autotrophs that use sunlight to synthesize their food.
  • Chemoautotrophs are autotrophs that use chemicals to prepare their food.
Example

All green plants are producers or autotrophs.

Key differences

  1. Heterotrophs are the organisms that cannot prepare their food, while autotrophs can produce their own food.
  2. Heterotrophs obtain their food by ingesting other organisms, while autotrophs prepare their food using inorganic material.
  3. Heterotrophs do not require any pigment, while autotrophs have pigments like chlorophyll, etc. to produce their food through photosynthesis.
  4. Heterotrophs occupy the secondary and tertiary level in the food chain, while autotrophs occupy the primary level.
  5. Heterotrophs are also known as consumers, while autotrophs are known as producers.
  6. Heterotrophs occupy the low energy level while autotrophs occupy the high energy level in food.
  7. Animals, birds, and some protozoa are examples of heterotrophs, but green plants are autotrophs.

Final Thought

From the above discussion, it is concluded that heterotrophs are consumers who cannot produce their food and obtain it through producers or other consumers, while autotrophs are producers who can produce their own food using inorganic material such as water, dioxide. carbon and sunlight. etc.

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