AskDefine | Define autotrophic

Dictionary Definition

autotrophic adj : of or relating to organisms (as green plants) that can make complex organic nutritive compounds from simple inorganic sources by photosynthesis [syn: autophytic] [ant: heterotrophic]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Of or pertaining to the production of organic compounds from carbon dioxide as a carbon source, using either light or reactions of inorganic chemical compounds, as a source of energy.

Extensive Definition

An autotroph (from the Greek autos = self and trophey-like = nutrition) is an organism that produces complex organic compounds from simple inorganic molecules using energy from light or inorganic chemical reactions.
Autotrophs are the producers in a food chain. Plants and other organisms which carry out photosynthesis are photoautotrophs (or phototrophs). Bacteria which derive energy from oxidizing inorganic compounds (such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonium and ferrous iron) are chemoautotrophs, and include the lithotrophs.
Autotrophs are fundamental to the food chains of all plant ecosystems. They take energy from the environment (in the form of sunlight or inorganic chemicals) and use it to create carbon-based organic molecules. Other organisms, called heterotrophs, take in autotrophs as food to carry out such functions. Thus, heterotrophs — animals, fungi, as well as most bacteria and protozoa — depend on autotrophs for the energy and raw materials they need. This mechanism is called primary production in the sea. Heterotrophs obtain energy by breaking down organic molecules obtained in food. Carnivorous animals ultimately rely on autotrophs because the energy and organic building blocks obtained from their prey comes from autotrophs they preyed upon.
There are some species(species come from the ground or the soil) of organisms that require organic compounds as a source of carbon, but are able to use light or inorganic compounds as a source of energy. Such organisms are not defined as autotrophic, but rather as heterotrophic. An organism that obtains carbon from organic compounds but obtains energy from light is called a photoheterotroph, while an organism that obtains carbon from organic compounds but obtains energy from the oxidation of inorganic compounds is termed a chemoheterotroph. i
autotrophic in Bulgarian: Автотроф
autotrophic in Catalan: Autotròfia
autotrophic in Czech: Autotrofie
autotrophic in Danish: Autotrof
autotrophic in German: Autotrophie
autotrophic in Estonian: Autotroof
autotrophic in Spanish: Nutrición autótrofa
autotrophic in Esperanto: Aŭtotrofo
autotrophic in Basque: Autotrofo
autotrophic in Persian: خودپروردگی
autotrophic in French: Autotrophie
autotrophic in Galician: Autótrofo
autotrophic in Korean: 자가영양생물
autotrophic in Croatian: Autotrofija
autotrophic in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Autotropho
autotrophic in Icelandic: Frumbjarga lífvera
autotrophic in Italian: Autotrofia
autotrophic in Hebrew: אוטוטרוף
autotrophic in Lithuanian: Autotrofai
autotrophic in Hungarian: Autotrófia
autotrophic in Dutch: Autotroof
autotrophic in Japanese: 独立栄養生物
autotrophic in Norwegian: Autotrofi
autotrophic in Occitan (post 1500): Autotrofia
autotrophic in Polish: Samożywność
autotrophic in Portuguese: Autotrofismo
autotrophic in Romanian: Autotrof
autotrophic in Russian: Продуценты
autotrophic in Simple English: Autotroph
autotrophic in Slovak: Autotrofia
autotrophic in Serbian: Аутотрофи
autotrophic in Swedish: Autotrof
autotrophic in Thai: ออโตทรอพ
autotrophic in Turkish: Ototroflar
autotrophic in Ukrainian: Автотрофи
autotrophic in Chinese: 自养生物
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