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Title: Autotroph  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Biomass (ecology), Trophic mutualism, Ecological pyramid, Mixotroph, Self-replication
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Overview of cycle between autotrophs and green arrow).

An autotroph[α] ("reducing agent, but some can use other hydrogen compounds such as hydrogen sulfide. Phototrophs (green plants and algae), a type of autotroph, convert physical energy from sunlight into chemical energy in the form of reduced carbon.

Autotrophs can be [1]


Some organisms rely on chemoheterotroph, chemolithoheterotroph, or lithoheterotroph.

Evidence suggests that some fungi may also obtain energy from radiation. Such radiotrophic fungi were found growing inside a reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.[2]


Flowchart to determine if a species is autotroph, heterotroph, or a subtype


Green fronds of a maidenhair fern, a photoautotroph

Autotrophs are fundamental to the food chains of all nutrients obtained from their heterotroph prey come from autotrophs they have consumed.

Most ecosystems are supported by the autotrophic primary production of plants that capture photons initially released by nuclear fusion reactions in the sun. The process of photosynthesis splits a water molecule (H2O), releasing oxygen (O2) into the atmosphere, and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) to release the hydrogen atoms that fuel the metabolic process of primary production. Plants convert and store the energy of the photon into the chemical bonds of simple sugars during photosynthesis. These plant sugars are polymerized for storage as long-chain carbohydrates, including other sugars, starch, and cellulose; glucose is also used to make fats and proteins. When autotrophs are eaten by heterotrophs, i.e., consumers such as animals, the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins contained in them become energy sources for the heterotrophs.[3] Proteins can be made using nitrates, sulfates, and phosphates in the soil.[4][5]

See also


  1. ^ Mauseth, James D. (2008). Botany: An Introduction to Plant Biology (4 ed.). Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 252.  
  2. ^ Melville, Kate (23 May 2007). "Chernobyl Fungus Feeds On Radiation". Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2009. 
  3. ^ Beckett, Brian S. (1981). Illustrated Human and Social Biology. Oxford University Press. p. 38.  
  4. ^ Odum, E. P.; Barrett, G. W. (2005). Fundamentals of ecology. Brooks Cole. p. 598.  
  5. ^ Smith, Gilbert M. (2007). A Textbook of General Botany. READ BOOKS. p. 148.  


α. ^ The word autotroph comes from the Greek autos "self" and trophe "nutrition," related to trephein "to make solid, congeal, thicken".

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