BACK TO autotroph

autotroph vs. heterotroph

autotroph vs. heterotroph: What’s the difference?

An autotroph is an organism capable of self-nourishing by synthesizing its own food from inorganic substances using light (photosynthesis) or chemical energy (chemosynthesis). A heterotroph is an organism that has to consume organic matter (often plant or animal matter) to nourish itself. All animals, protozoans, fungi, and most bacteria are heterotrophs. Green plants, algae, and certain bacteria are autotrophs.

[ aw-tuh-trof, -trohf ]
  1. any organism capable of self-nourishment by using inorganic materials as a source of nutrients and using photosynthesis or chemosynthesis as a source of energy, as most plants and certain bacteria and protists.
[ het-er-uh-trof, -trohf ]
  1. an organism requiring organic compounds for its principal source of food.

Compare More Commonly Confused Words