- any organism that lives on dead organic matter, as certain fungi and bacteria.
Origin of saprophyte
Also called saprobe.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for saprophytic
In the second group, the bacterial species lives a saprophytic existence, growing in milk, if it happens to find its way therein.Outlines of Dairy Bacteriology, 8th edition
H. L. Russell
Many are exclusively parasitic or saprophytic, and many are facultative, both conditions of living being possible.Disease and Its Causes
William Thomas Councilman
Some parasites are able to lead a saprophytic existence also, but as a rule they live at the expense of animal or plant life.
These can no more be attacked during their saprophytic existence than those just mentioned.
Von Fodor showed that saprophytic bacteria injected into the blood are rapidly destroyed.
- any plant that lives and feeds on dead organic matter using mycorrhizal fungi associated with its roots; a saprotrophic plant
Word Origin and History for saprophytic
"bacteria or fungus that grows on decaying organic matter," 1867, from French, from Greek sapros "putrid" + phyton "plant" (see phyto-). Related: Saprophytism.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- An organism, especially a fungus or bacterium, that grows on and derives its nourishment from dead or decaying organic matter.
- An organism, especially a fungus or bacterium, that lives on and gets its nourishment from dead organisms or decaying organic material. Saprophytes recycle organic material in the soil, breaking it down into in simpler compounds that can be taken up by other organisms.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.