Difference between chemotrophs, autotrophs and heterotrophs.

The way in which an organism is fed is one of the characteristics that make it possible to classify living things into taxonomic categories. Of course, you can joke that the way of eating determines consciousness, but today there are only three ways of receiving vital energy on the planet.


Chemotrophs exist due to their ability to receive energy in the process of oxidative or reduction reactions of organic and inorganic substances. Everything is suitable for chemotrophs as "food": hydrogen sulfide and methane, sulfur and carbohydrates, ferrous iron and protein, fats and hydrocarbons. It is desirable that water and gas participate in the chemosynthesis process. Some chemotrophs definitely need oxygen, others will have enough methane.

The classical representatives of chemotrophs are bacteria. Due to their "omnivorousness", these organisms can exist in almost any environment, from the hollow of a thermal or highly mineralized reservoir to the internal organs of a person, from a piece of bread or flesh to a flask with oil. By the way, the story about the formation of mineral water like "Naftusya" can be an example of the useful activity of chemotrophs. Atmospheric precipitation seeps into oil-saturated underground cavities. Ten years and bacteria completely process the mixture of liquids, turning them into a healing drink.


Autotrophs live due to the fact that in the process of evolution they have adapted to independently receive vital energy, using sunlight and carbon dioxide for this. Typical examples of autotrophs are plants and green bacteria. And, of course, the process of conversion of CO2and water under the action of solar quanta into organic matter, in most cases into glucose, is called photosynthesis.

Dracaena. A typical representative of autotrophs

Due to their ability to independently produce the energy they need, autotrophic plants form the basis of the food pyramid.


Heterotrophs do not produce energy themselves, but are engaged in eating those who do it. In order to survive, they must "fill up" with substances of exogenous origin. Their digestive system is focused on breaking down polymers produced by other organisms into digestible monomers.

The list of heterotrophs includes all animals, fungi, some types of bacteria and individual plants. For example, 30 species of rafflesia carnivore, broomrape or Peter's cross.

Peter's cross. Heterotroph. It feeds on tree roots, growing into them

The heterotrophs themselves are divided into 2 groups: consumers and decomposers. Consumers only consume organic matter produced by autotrophs. Reducers, on the other hand, are capable of decomposing consumed organic substances to the level of non-organic ones.

The consumer group is divided into several levels. For example, the consumer of the first level will be an antelope eating green grass, or a mouse eating a wheat spikelet. A second-order consummation can be a lion who dined on an antelope, or an owl that caught a mouse. The third order consummation will be a hyena that has eaten a killed lion, or a lynx that has caught an owl.

Reducers are fungi and rotting bacteria. Their task is to decompose the remains of living things to the level of simple organic or inorganic compounds suitable for use by autotrophs and chemotrophs.

Conclusions TheDifference.ru

  1. The main difference between chemotrophs and autotrophs from heterotrophs is the ability or inability to produce vital energy. The first pair does it on their own, using the energy of the Sun or chemical reactions.
  2. Chemotrophs and autotrophs theoretically can exist without heterotrophs, while the latter cannot survive without someone else's vital energy.
  3. Hemtrophs have the most primitive level of organization and microscopic size. Most heterotrophs, with the exception of fungi and a couple of dozen plant species, have the most complex organization and are the top of the food pyramid.