Dictionary » H » Heterotroph



noun, plural: heterotrophs

An organism that is unable to synthesize its own organic carbon-based compounds from inorganic sources, hence, feeds on organic matter produced by, or available in, other organisms.


Heterotrophs are the consumers in the food chain, particularly the herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. All animals, some fungi and most bacteria are heterotrophs. They are not capable of producing their own food. Therefore, they obtain their energy requirements by feeding on organic matter or another organism.

An organism is heterotroph if it obtains its carbon from organic compounds. If it obtains nitrogen from organic compounds but not energy, it is still considered an autotroph (such as carnivorous plants).

Organisms that obtain carbon from organic compounds may either be: photoheterotrophs or chemoheterotrophs.

Word origin: G. h├ęteros: the other of two, other, different + G. trophos: feeder.
Related forms: heterotrophic (adjective), heterotrophically (adverb), heterotrophy (noun).

Compare: autotroph, phototroph.
See also: food chain.

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Results from our forum


1) how do you insert single gene? 2) what strain do you use? Is it autotroph or heterotroph?

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by JackBean
Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:36 am
Forum: Molecular Biology
Topic: How
Replies: 4
Views: 2640

Genetic diversity & origin of life on Earth

... of mutation, sexual reproduction, migration and population size please?? Also, the origin of life on Earth in terms of extraterrestrial source, heterotroph and autotroph?? I have an assignment on both topics but need more clarification. Thanks Mynica

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by Mynica
Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:07 am
Forum: Genetics
Topic: Genetic diversity & origin of life on Earth
Replies: 0
Views: 2138

How are plantae protists and stramenopila (diatom) different

... algae), and are one of the most common types of phytoplankton. Most diatoms are unicellular and some are colonial algae, live in water, both heterotroph and autotroph, yellow brown chloroplast, they are sessile (don't have flagella however move by water stream as they float), reproduce by ...

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by yahman
Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:26 pm
Forum: Microbiology
Topic: plantae protist and diatoms evolution
Replies: 3
Views: 13697

does sodium deoxycholate effect salmonella typhimurium

Well, His+ strain is histidine-autotroph, can produce His by itself. His- is histidine-heterotroph, for some reason needs histidine to be supplemented, so His- strain can't grow on medium w/o His. BUT - mutations sometimes occur (even w/o mutagens), so even on plate ...

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by JackBean
Fri Dec 25, 2009 7:54 pm
Forum: Genetics
Topic: does sodium deoxycholate effect salmonella typhimurium
Replies: 3
Views: 3724

Modern mitochondria

... been photosynthetic. It probably started living inside larger cells to have a continuous supply of glucose as well as protection from predators. Heterotroph would be my answer, too.

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by alextemplet
Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:57 am
Forum: Microbiology
Topic: Modern mitochondria
Replies: 12
Views: 12615
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