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Nikita Parmar

Updated on 28th August, 2023 , 4 min read

What is Autotrophic Nutrition: Definitions, Examples, History, Classification, and Variants

Autotrophic Nutrition Overview

In order to operate or carry out life's activities, we require energy. We obtain this energy from eating. Yes, we consume a variety of foods every day. Cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables, meat, and eggs are all part of it. As you are aware, plants provide us with various fruits and vegetables. For our nourishment, people rely on producers like plants. However, the majority of plants do not rely on other living things for nutrition. They cook their own food in the presence of sunlight and chlorophyll, using inorganic ingredients like water or carbon dioxide. To maintain consistent growth and reproduction, all living things require food and energy.

What is Autotrophic Nutrition?

'Auto" stands for 'nutrition,' making up the phrase autotroph. Self-nutrition is the definition of autotrophic nutrition. As a result, during the process of autotrophic feeding, organisms produce their own food from simple inorganic elements like water, mineral salts, and carbon dioxide. Green plants and autotrophic bacteria are typical examples of organisms that exhibit an autotrophic method of feeding.

What is Autotrophic Nutrition

Read more about the Unicellular Organisms Example and Eubacteria.

Examples of Autotrophic Nutrition

The following are significant examples of autotrophic nutrition-

Algae: Red and green algae

What is Autotrophic Nutrition

Cyanobacteria, among other bacteria

What is Autotrophic Nutrition


History of Autotrophic Nutrition

German botanist Albert Bernhard Frank first used the word autotroph in 1892. It comes from the Greek word o (trophy), which means "nourishment" or "food" in the old language. About 2 billion years ago, the first autotrophic creature began to emerge. Through the development of photosynthesis, photoautotrophs diverged from heterotrophic bacteria. H₂S was employed by the first photosynthetic microorganisms. Because hydrogen sulfide was so scarce, certain photosynthetic bacteria developed to utilize water instead of it, giving rise to cyanobacteria.

What is Autotrophic Nutrition

Classification of Autotrophic Mode of Nutrition

The following two methods are used by autotrophic organisms to prepare their own food-

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Some autotrophs produce their own food through chemical processes as opposed to photosynthesis. Exergonic chemical processes, which often take place when there isn't sunshine, provide energy for the creation of organic materials by living beings. When chemical substances, whether organic or inorganic, are oxidized, chemical energy is produced. As ATP molecules, the chemical energy produced by oxidation processes is stored. The carbon dioxide is subsequently assimilated using this energy together with hydrogen that is taken in from sources other than water. Because of this, oxygen is not created throughout this process. Chemosynthetic bacteria are necessary for the recycling of nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus, iron, and sulfur. Sulfur bacteria, Nitrosomonas, hydrogen bacteria, and nitrifying bacteria are a few examples.


In order to create starch, photosynthesis converts solar energy into chemical energy. To finish this process, several plant components perform a variety of roles-

  1. During the day, the stomata on the leaf emit oxygen as a byproduct.
  2. In the presence of sunshine, plants synthesize glucose with the aid of carbon dioxide and water.
  3. Other heterotrophic plants and animals use these dietary ingredients as a source of energy. 
  4. The chloroplast, a unique structure that contains chlorophyll, is found in the leaves of vascular plants. 
  5. The plant's food factories are thought to be the leaves.
  6. The plant's roots transmit water and minerals from the earth to various areas of the plant.
  7. The process of converting sugar into proteins, lipids, and carbs uses all the minerals that are dissolved in water. 
  8. The stomata, which are found in the bottom epidermis of the leaf and consume carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, are present.
  9. The synthesized food is transported to various locations inside the facility for storage and use. 
  10. These green plants need nitrogen, which is found in the soil, to create proteins.
  11. This process produces glucose, which is then transformed into diverse substances like cellulose and starch and stored in various regions of the plant.

Variants of Autotrophic Nutrition

While certain organisms must obtain their carbon from organic materials, they can obtain their energy from light or inorganic substances. These creatures are mixotrophs. A chemolithoheterotroph is an organism that derives energy through the oxidation of inorganic substances and obtains carbon from organic molecules, whereas a photoheterotroph takes carbon from organic compounds but obtains energy from light. Such radiotrophic mushrooms were discovered growing within a reactor of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, providing evidence that certain fungi may also acquire energy from ionizing radiation.

Read more about the Grazing Food Chain and the Father of Biology.

Points to Remember

  1. Autotrophic nourishment can be achieved using either chemosynthesis or photosynthesis. 
  2. Chemosynthesis is the process of producing food without the need for light. 
  3. Photosynthesis is carried out by green plants.
  4. The process of photosynthesis uses sunlight to create food.
  5. When an organism synthesizes its own food or is an autotroph, it exhibits autotrophic feeding.
  6. When an organism uses basic inorganic elements and sunlight to produce its own nourishment, this process is known as autotrophic nutrition.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What plant organelle does photosynthesis take place in?

Ans. Because chlorophyll, a light-trapping pigment, and photosystems are present in the chloroplast of plants, the process of photosynthesis takes place there.

What are the two types of autotrophic nutrition?

Ans. Photosynthesis and chemosynthesis are the two types of autotrophic nutrition.

What are the three things that happened throughout this process of photosynthesis?

Ans. Chlorophyll’s absorption of light, the splitting of water molecules, the conversion of light energy to chemical energy, and the conversion of CO2 to sugars.

Are viruses heterotrophic or autotrophic?

Ans. In response, viruses are neither autotrophs nor heterotrophs. This is because their metabolism is nonexistent. Since they are obligate intracellular parasites, every aspect of their existence depends on the host. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is one example.

How does autotrophic nutrition work? Give an example.

Ans. A living form that is capable of producing or delivering its own nourishment is said to be autotrophic. These organisms produce their food using inorganic components like water, CO2, and solar energy. Autotrophic nutrition comes in two flavors: photosynthesis and chemosynthesis. Examples of autotrophic nourishment include cyanobacteria, microorganisms, blue-green algae, seaweed, wheat, grass, and autotrophic green plants.

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