All living beings need a diet, that is, the arrival of coal and other essential substances for their mutualisms. According to the way in which these substances are acquired, organisms differentiate between autotrophs and heterotrophs.
The autotrophs are those capable of extracting the carbon from the gross of the atmosphere and convert it into energy, while the heterotrophs are those who can not produce their own food and then must obtain it by consuming other materials, which in some cases are the same as the autotrophs produce.
The autotrophic organisms are those capable of developing organic matter starting from an inorganic material. They are able, they, to synthesize the substances they need for their proper metabolic functioning through substances that are not organic. Autotrophic organisms constitute a fundamental link in the food chain because their metabolism allows their own development and that of other living beings: if it were not for them, life would not have been conceived as it is known in reality.
It is worthwhile to try to think about how it is that the feeding of autotrophic organisms actually occurs. There is a subdivision between those who are chemoautotrophs and photoautotrophs:
- The chemoautotrophs can grow in strictly mineral media of darkness because carbon is obtained from chemical reactions with carbon dioxide. This way of life only exists in prokaryotes.
- The photoautotrophs are much more frequent and get food from solar energy. The process is known as photosynthesis, which is the process of making food by plant parts. The plants that have chlorophyll are recognized for having a green color in their leaves, and that is what catches the sunlight, managing to transform the raw sap into elaborated, precisely what constitutes the food of the plant. In contrast, the process of photosynthesis causes the plant to release oxygen. The Calvin cycle is one that reliably explains what happens during photosynthesis.
Examples of autotrophic organisms
- Venus Fly Traps
- Green and Purple Sulfur Bacteria
- The Resurrection Fern
- The Corpse Lily
The heterotrophic organisms, meanwhile, are those that must be fed with organic substances synthesized by other organisms, whether autotrophic or heterotrophic.
The nutrients that are incorporated in the case of heterotrophs are substances rich in organic matter (lipids, protein or carbohydrates). All animals belong to the category of heterotrophs, but also bacteria are part of that group.
Some organisms usually confused as plants are actually heterotrophs, as they are with fungi: they do not have chlorophyll, and therefore can not develop their own food from the energy of light.
The process determines the power cell in the case of heterotrophic includes the capture, ingestion, digestion, step membrane and the subsequent expulsion of the molecules that are not useful (excretion).
Examples of heterotrophic organisms
- Some bacteria
It should be said, finally, that there are some organisms that do not fit perfectly in the division between heterotrophs and autotrophs: some bacteria and other microorganisms, on the other hand, can obtain carbon from autotrophic activity or depend on other organic material to it. These are considered to be mixotrophs since they combine the activity of both groups.