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From Wikipedia


An autotroph, also called a producer, is an organism that produces complex organic compounds (such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) from simple inorganic molecules using energy from light (by photosynthesis) or inorganic chemical reactions (chemosynthesis). They are the producers in a food chain, such as plants on land or algae in water. They are able to make their own food and can fix carbon. Therefore, they do not utilize organic compounds as an energy source or a carbon source. Autotrophs can reduce carbon dioxide (add hydrogen to it) to make organic compounds. The reduction of carbon dioxide, a low-energy compound, creates a store of chemical energy. Most autotrophs use water as the reducing agent, but some can use other hydrogen compounds such as hydrogen sulfide. An autotroph converts physical energy from sun light (in case of green plants) into chemical energy in the form of reduced carbon.

Autotroph can be phototrophs or lithotrophs (chemoautotrophs). Phototrophs use light as an energy source, while lithotrophs oxidize inorganic compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide, elemental sulfur, ammonium and ferrous iron. Phototrophs and lithotrophs use a portion of the ATP produced during photosynthesis or the oxidation of inorganic compounds to reduce NADP+ to NADPH in order to form organic compounds.


Autotrophs are fundamental to the food chains of all ecosystems in the world. They take energy from the environment in the form of sunlight or inorganic chemicals and use it to create energy-rich molecules such as carbohydrates. This mechanism is called primary production. Other organisms, called heterotrophs, take in autotrophs as food to carry out functions necessary for their life. Thus, heterotrophs — all animals, almost all fungi, as well as most bacteria and protozoa— depend on autotrophs for the energy and raw materials they need. Heterotrophs obtain energy by breaking down organic molecules (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) obtained in food. Carnivorous organisms ultimately rely on autotrophs because the nutrients obtained from their heterotroph prey come from autotrophs they consumed.


Some organisms rely on organic compounds as a source of carbon, but are able to use light or inorganic compounds as a source of energy. Such organisms are not defined as autotrophic, but rather as heterotrophic. An organism that obtains carbon from organic compounds but obtains energy from light is called a photoheterotroph, while an organism that obtains carbon from organic compounds but obtains energy from the oxidation of inorganic compounds is termed achemoheterotrophor chemolithoheterotroph.

Evidence suggests that some fungi may also obtain energy from radiation. Such radiotrophic fungi were found growing inside a reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.


  • Autotroph
    • Chemoheterotroph
    • Photoheterotroph

From Yahoo Answers


Answers:Ok heterotrophs are the organism that finds food, does matter if they just digest them or the hunt for the food, its the same, so all you have to remeber is the organism that doesn;t make food for themselve the organism that are heterotrophs are anything but plants, meaning fungi, protist, animals, Autotroph are the organism taht make their food, plants are one, and their is some organism that can make their own food but also hunt for their food, mostly marine plankton

Question:I already know that a venus flytrap is an autotroph, because it eats flies and other small insects strictly for proteins. Is there one that exists that's both??? thank you!!

Answers:ANSWER: Yes! EXAMPLE: Euglena. It is a single-celled organism that has both plant- and animal-like characteristics. It is classified as a Eukaryote from Kingdom Protista. CHARACTERISTICS: It can photosynthesize when there is light, therefore, it can make its own food. But when light is not available it can get food from its aquatic environment. It can also swim by the motion of its flagella. For more information and a killer video, see the site below:

Question:Is a african elephant a autotroph or a heterotroph?

Answers:an autotroph is an organism that can synthesise its own food materials like plants. surely an elephant cant synthesise its own food so its a heterotroph...

Question:I'm trying to write a biology report on microscopic organisms and I'm not sure if this is heterotrophic or autotrophic

Answers:Hey there! A didinium is a fast moving carnivorous protozoan that feeds on live paramecium. Since a didinium resembles closely to the animallike protists, which are heterotrophs, then the didinium is a heterotroph. Hope it helps!

From Youtube

Autotroph vs. Heterotroph :Puppet Show explaining the difference of an autotroph and a heterotroph in a very humorous way. Made for Biology Class. Rated R for Risque

Learn Biology: Autotrophs vs. Heterotrophs :www.mahalo.com Mary Poffenroth, an adjunct professor of biology, teaches you different topics of biology. In this video she explains the difference between and heterotrophs. Biology Playlist: www.youtube.com Check out these related Mahalo pages: Factors That Affect Biotic Potential: www.mahalo.com Keystone Species vs Indicator Species: www.mahalo.com Autotrophs vs. Heterotrophs: www.mahalo.com Genetically Modified Organisms: www.mahalo.com Stem Cells: www.mahalo.com Greggor Mendel Biography: www.mahalo.com How to Draw a Punnett Square: www.mahalo.com Check out more video from Mahalo: How to Speak German: www.youtube.com How to Speak French: www.youtube.com How to Speak Spanish: www.youtube.com How to Speak Korean: www.youtube.com Christmas Arts & Crafts: www.youtube.com How to Have a Healthy Relationship: www.youtube.com Parenting: www.youtube.com Celebs in 60: www.youtube.com Canon DSLR: www.youtube.com LA's Hottest Bartender: www.youtube.com All images licensed under Creative Commons: Daniel Mayer- commons.wikimedia.org