AskDefine | Define heterotroph

Dictionary Definition

heterotroph n : an organism that depends on complex organic substances for nutrition

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. In the context of "ecology": An organism which requires an external supply of energy in the form of food as it cannot synthesize its own.

Derived terms


Extensive Definition

A heterotroph, or chemoorganotroehy (Greek heterone = (an)other and trophe = nutrition), is an organism that requires organic substrates to get its carbon for growth and development.
A heterotroph is known as a consumer in the chain. Contrast with autotrophs which use inorganic carbon dioxide or bicarbonate as sole carbon source. All animals are heterotrophic, as well as fungi and many bacteria. Some parasitic plants have also turned fully or partially heterotrophic, whereas carnivorous plants use their flesh diet to augment their nitrogen supply, but are still autotrophic.
Heterotrophs are unable to synthesize organic carbon-based compounds independently from the inorganic environment's sources (e.g. Animalia, unlike Plantae, cannot photosynthesize) and therefore must obtain their nutrition from another heterotroph or an autotroph.
For a species to be termed a heterotroph, it must obtain its carbon from organic compounds. If it obtains nitrogen from organic compounds, but not energy, it will be deemed an autotroph. If a species obtains carbon from organic compounds then there are two possible subtypes of these heterotrophs:
In simpler terminology, a heterotroph is an organism that is incapable of making its own food from light or inorganic compounds, and feeds on organisms or the remains of other organisms to get its necessary energy to survive.
heterotroph in Catalan: Heterotròfia
heterotroph in Czech: Heterotrofie
heterotroph in Danish: Heterotrof
heterotroph in German: Heterotrophie
heterotroph in Estonian: Heterotroof
heterotroph in Spanish: Nutrición heterótrofa
heterotroph in Esperanto: Heterotrofo
heterotroph in Basque: Heterotrofo
heterotroph in French: Hétérotrophie
heterotroph in Croatian: Heterotrofni organizmi
heterotroph in Indonesian: Heterotrof
heterotroph in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Heterotropho
heterotroph in Icelandic: Ófrumbjarga lífvera
heterotroph in Italian: Eterotrofia
heterotroph in Hebrew: הטרוטרוף
heterotroph in Lithuanian: Heterotrofai
heterotroph in Dutch: Heterotroof
heterotroph in Japanese: 従属栄養生物
heterotroph in Norwegian: Heterotrofi
heterotroph in Norwegian Nynorsk: Heterotrofi
heterotroph in Occitan (post 1500): Eterotrofia
heterotroph in Polish: Cudzożywność
heterotroph in Portuguese: Heterotrofismo
heterotroph in Romanian: Heterotrof
heterotroph in Russian: Консументы
heterotroph in Simple English: Heterotroph
heterotroph in Slovak: Heterotrofia
heterotroph in Slovenian: Heterotrof
heterotroph in Finnish: Toisenvaraisuus
heterotroph in Swedish: Heterotrofi
heterotroph in Thai: เฮเทโรทรอพ
heterotroph in Tajik: Ҳетеротроф
heterotroph in Ukrainian: Гетеротрофи
heterotroph in Venetian: Eterotrofìa
heterotroph in Chinese: 消费者 (生物)
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