What is an autotroph and a heterotroph?

What is an autotroph and a heterotroph?

An autotroph is an organism that produces its own food. It is also called a producer. 

An autotroph produces (makes) its own carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. To make its own food, it uses light, water, carbon dioxide, or other chemicals. Therefore, an autotroph can use carbon dioxide (CO2) and water to form oxygen and complex organic compounds, mainly through the process of photosynthesis.  

Autotroph and Heterotroph

An example of an autotroph is all plants, algae (including seaweed), some fungi (yeast, mould), and some bacteria.

A heterotroph is an organism that cannot produce its own food. It is a consumer that eats other living organisms (such as plants and other animals).

Examples of a heterotroph is all animals, some fungi (mushrooms), and some bacteria. 

Seaweed (Autotroph)
Mushroom (Heterotroph)
Falabella Miniature Horse (Heterotroph)

Illustration: Mikael Haggstrom

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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