On Earth lives a huge multitude of livingcreatures. For the convenience of their study, researchers classify all organisms according to various characteristics. According to the type of food, all living things are divided into two large groups - autotrophs and heterotrophs. In addition, a group of mixotrophs is distinguished - these are organisms adapted to both types of nutrition. In this article, we will analyze the vital features of the two main groups and find out how autotrophs differ from heterotrophs.
Autotrophs - organisms, independentlysynthesizing organic substances from inorganic. In this group are some types of bacteria and almost all organisms belonging to the kingdom of plants. In the course of their life autotrophs utilize various inorganic substances coming in from outside (carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, iron, etc.), using them in the reactions of synthesis of complex organic compounds (mainly carbohydrates and proteins).
Heterotrophic organisms eat readyorganic substances, they are not able to synthesize them independently. This group includes mushrooms, animals (including humans), some bacteria and even some plants (some parasitic species).
As we see, the main difference between heterotrophsautotrophs lies in the chemical nature of the nutrients they need. The essence of the processes of their nutrition differs. Autotrophic organisms expend energy when converting inorganic substances into organic, heterotrophs, energy does not expend when feeding. Autotrophs and heterotrophs are divided into two groups, depending on the energy source used (in the first case) and on the food substrate used by the second type of microorganisms.
Among autotrophs, photoautotrophic andchemoautotrophic organisms. Photoautotrophs use the energy of sunlight to effect transformations. It is important to note that in the organisms of this group there is a specific process - photosynthesis (or a process similar to it of the type). Carbon dioxide is converted into various organic compounds. Chemoautotrophs use the energy obtained as a result of other chemical reactions. To this group belong different bacteria.
Heterotrophic microorganisms are divided into metatrophs and paratrofs. Metatrophs as the substrate of organic compounds use dead organisms, paratrofy - live.
Autotrophs and heterotrophs occupy certainposition in the food chain. Autotrophs are always producers - they create organic substances that later pass through the entire chain. Heterotrophs become consumers of various orders (as a rule, in this category are animals) and decomposers (fungi, microorganisms). In other words, autotrophs and heterotrophs form trophic connections among themselves. This is of paramount importance for the ecological situation in the world, because it is due to trophic connections that the circulation of various substances in nature takes place.