Autotrophic and Heterotrophic Nutrition

Nutrition is the science of providing the right amount of food and drink to maintain and improve health. It is a scientific discipline concerned with what humans should eat and drink, how they should be grown, processed, distributed, etc.

Autotrophic nutrition is the process of converting organic compounds and solar energy into chemical energy that can be stored as chemical bonds in organic molecules. Heterotrophic nutrition is the process of converting inorganic compounds, such as minerals, into organic molecules.

Food, or any source of energy for all living organisms on this planet, is made from several different sources. Corn, for example, can be a source of ground beef and breadfruit is used to make bread. Different organisms are further divided into groups according to their feeding style:

  • Autotrophs
  • Heterotrophs

Here in this article, let us know about the autotrophic and heterotrophic nutrition and differences between autotrophs and heterotrophs, along with the examples.

What are Autotrophs and Heterotrophs?

The autotrophs are organisms that utilize the energy from the sun to produce organic compounds. The heterotrophs, on the other hand, are organisms that use organic compounds as a source of energy to produce their own food.


Autotrophs are organisms that grow without using photosynthesis. Some autotrophs can only be found in certain environments, such as the deep ocean or the bark of trees.

These organisms provide food for other organisms and can live off of products that they produce themselves. They are also known as saprophytes because they break down dead organic matter to get energy and nutrients.

Autotrophs are common in ecosystems of forests, prairies, and wetlands where there is a lot of decaying plant material to feed on.

Autotrophs are organisms that can produce their own food from inorganic sources. They use energy from the sun to synthesize organic compounds, which they then break down into food.

Autotrophs are found everywhere in nature, but only a few species have been studied extensively. They include mosses, algae, and plants.

Many scientists believe that autotrophs may be the earliest form of life on Earth and may have been responsible for the formation of the planet’s atmosphere and oceans.

Autotroph Examples

Some examples of autotrophic organisms include:

  • Green plants
  • Algae- Green algae and Red algae
  • Bacteria- Cyanobacteria


Heterotrophs are organisms that obtain their organic carbon from inorganic compounds, such as minerals and metals. Heterotrophs are a group of organisms that includes all plants, animals, and fungi.

Heterotrophs are the primary producers in the food chain that can convert inorganic compounds into organic ones. They are responsible for breaking down complex molecules into simpler ones.

Heterotrophs have a wide range of functions in ecosystems like decomposing dead plant matter, converting nutrients from dead plants to live ones, and removing excess oxygen from water bodies.

Heterotrophs Examples

Heterotrophs are organisms that cannot produce their own food and depend on other organisms to provide them with the necessary nutrients.

Some examples of heterotrophs are:

  • Humans
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Fungi

What is Autotrophic Nutrition?

The term “autotrophic” is formed by the combination of two terms, “auto” meaning self, and  “trophic” meaning nutrition. The literal meaning of this term is self-nutrition.

Autotrophic nutrition is the process of converting sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into chemical energy using a photosynthetic plant. The process of autotrophic nutrition is the most efficient way to create food for plants. This process makes it possible for plants to grow in areas that are not ideal for agriculture.

The process of autotrophic nutrition can be used in many different environments and can be applied to other organisms as well.

Autotrophic nutrition is a process of feeding oneself without the need for outside sources of energy. It is a type of anaerobic respiration where the cells use their own energy for metabolism.

In order to survive, plants and animals need to consume food derived from sunlight and other sources such as chemical compounds in soil or water. However, autotrophic nutrition allows organisms to create food from their own resources which can be either chemical compounds or light.

Autotrophic nutrition has been used by some species such as cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and green algae but it was not extensively studied until recently. The discovery of autotrophic nutrition has allowed scientists to study these organisms in a new way that they could not before because they were unable to easily observe them in their natural environment.

What is Heterotrophic Nutrition?

The term “heterotrophic nutrition” refers to the process of converting organic molecules into energy. The process occurs in the presence of oxygen and requires a complex set of reactions.

Heterotrophic nutrition is the type of nutrition that comes from organic sources. It is a way of eating that emphasizes the importance of using plants, rather than animals, as food.

Heterotrophic Nutrition is a way of eating that emphasizes the importance of using plants, rather than animals, as food. This type of diet has been around for thousands of years and has been used by many cultures for many reasons. It was first coined in the 1800s when it was thought to be superior to other forms of nutrition because it was believed to be more natural and sustainable in comparison to other types.

Heterotrophic Nutrition is an important part of our life because it helps us to survive and grow. It also helps us to break down food and convert it into energy. This process takes place in our cells where the food we eat is broken down by enzymes, which are created by our cells as well.

Heterotrophic Nutrition is a necessary requirement for survival because without it, we would not be able to break down food properly and extract energy from it.

Difference Between Autotrophic and Heterotrophic Nutrition

The difference between autotrophic and heterotrophic nutrition is that autotrophic nutrition is the process of feeding on organic matter while heterotrophic nutrition is feeding on non-organic matter like dead or living organisms.

Autotrophic NutritionHeterotrophic Nutrition
The organisms are capable of preparing their own food using simple substances that are available in their surroundings.The conditions necessary for autotrophic nutrition are carbon dioxide, water, chlorophyll and water.The organisms completely depend on others for their nutrition. They depend on surrounding plants and animals for food. They cannot make their food from inorganic substances like carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight.
Phototrophic and Chemotrophic are the two types of autotrophic nutrition.Holozoic, parasitic, symbiotic association, and saprophytic are the four types of heterotrophic nutrition.
Plants are an example of autotrophic nutrition.Animals and some plants are an example of heterotrophic nutrition.
Autotrophs are the producers in the food chain.Heterotrophs are the consumers in the food chain.
Difference Between Autotrophic and Heterotrophic Nutrition

Some plant species can also get their nutrients by eating other living things like animals or insects. This type of plant is called a parasite plant because it gets its nutrients from other living things without giving anything back in return.


Autotrophic nutrition is when a plant or animal takes in carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight to produce their own food. This process is called photosynthesis. Heterotrophic nutrition is when an organism eats another organism’s waste.

The autotrophic process is what plants use to grow. The process that plants use to generate their own nutrients from the sun, water and carbon dioxide is called autotrophic nutrition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Organisms are Both Autotrophs and Heterotrophs?

Some organisms are both autotrophs and heterotrophs. These organisms use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into organic compounds through photosynthesis.

Some plants and animals are autotrophic, meaning they can produce their own food from inorganic molecules like carbon dioxide. Some heterotrophs rely on other organisms for food, like plants that live on other plants or animals that eat other animals.

What are The Different Types of Autotrophs?

The types of autotrophs can be divided into two categories: plants, which use sunlight to produce sugar, starch or cellulose; and algae, which use sunlight to produce sugar through photosynthesis but also consume dissolved oxygen in the water around them. Cyanobacteria use sunlight for photosynthesis but also need a certain amount of dissolved oxygen for their cells to function properly.

There are many different types of autotrophic plants that exist today – they can be small or large, terrestrial or aquatic, herbaceous or woody, annuals or perennials – they all have their own unique way of growing and thriving

What is Autotrophic nutrition Example?

In autotrophic nutrition, the organism does not need to rely on any other living or non-living substance for its survival.

Examples of autotrophic nutrition include Auto-Green Plants, Algae, Phytoplankton, Seaweed, Wheat, Grass, Maize plant, bacteria, blue-green algae, and Cyanobacteria.

What is Heterotrophic Nutrition Example?

Heterotrophic nutrition is a type of nutrition that is not able to utilize the energy in the food as it cannot break down complex molecules like plants and animals.

Examples include: bacteria and fungi.