noun, plural: chemotrophs
Chemotrophs are organisms that obtain energy through chemical process called chemosynthesis rather than by photosynthesis. Chemosynthesis is carried out by chemotrophs through the oxidation of electron donors in the environment. Chemotrophs may be chemoautotrophs or chemoheterotroph. Chemoautotrophs are autotrophs. This means they are capable of making their own food through chemosynthesis. Chemosynthesis is a process by which some organisms, such as certain bacteria, use chemical energy to produce carbohydrates. They are capable of utilizing inorganic compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, sulfur, ammonium, and ferrous iron as reducing agents, and synthesize organic compounds from carbon dioxide. Chemoautotrophs are found in hostile habitats such as deep sea vents and where light cannot easily penetrate through. They include the methanogens, halophiles, nitrifiers, thermoacidophiles, sulfur oxidizers, etc.
Chemoheterotrophs are chemotrophs that are heterotrophic organisms. They are not capable of fixing carbon to form their own organic compounds. They may be further classified as chemolithoheterotrophs or chemoorganoheterotrophs. Chemolithoheterotrophs are those that utilize inorganic energy sources whereas chemoorganoheterotrophs are those using organic energy sources.
Word origin: chemo- + troph (nourishment)
- chemotrophic (adjective)