noun, plural: saprophages

An organism that lives and feeds on decomposing organic matter.


Saprophages include bacteria, fungi and some invertebrates, such as insect larvae. They play a vital role in decomposition and nutrient cycling.

Word origin: Greek, from sapros, rotten + Greek -phagos, eating, from phagein, to eat.

Related forms: saprophagous (adjective).

Synonyms: detritivore, detritus feeder.
Compare: carnivore, herbivore.

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