What is Autotrophic Nutrition? Give one Example of Autotrophs

Posted on March 16th, 2021
Autotrophic Nutrition
Autotrophic Nutrition

Autotrophic Nutrition –  Example of Autotrophs – Photosynthesis

What is Autotrophic Nutrition?

The word “Autotrophic” is the combination of two words – Auto (self) and Tropic (nutrition), and the exact meaning is self-nutrition. It is a process in which an organism produces its own food the simple inorganic material like water, carbon dioxide, and mineral salts in the presence of sunlight. All the green plants have an autotrophic nutritional pattern.

example of autotrophic nutrition

The autotrophic organisms have a green-colored pigment called “chlorophyll” that helps in taking energy from the sun. By the method of photosynthesis, they make their own food with the help of carbon dioxide, water, and solar energy. This is how glucose is made.

Some examples of autotrophic nutrition are plants like cyanobacteria and blue-green algae.


What is nutrition in Plants?

Every living organism requires some kind of energy and nutrient substances to make sure that the life processes run efficiently. In addition, the energy required is acquired from the food.

Nutrition in Plants

What are the nutrition requirements for plants?

Plants have cells and tissues and are also a part of living things that need some form of energy. They are the creators of the ecosystem; they also grow in girth and size. They do not have the essential nutrients to create their own food. Thus, the kind of nutrient requirement differs.

In plants, this type of nutrition is known as the “autotrophic mode of nutrition”. This actually means that the plants have the special ability to make their own food by using simple inorganic substances to harvest organic substances. They get energy sources from non-living things such as the sun and carbon dioxide (CO2).

autotrophic mode of nutrition

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What is Photosynthesis?

Plants that can produce their food are known as autotrophs. But there are some plants that cannot produce their own food are called as heterotrophs. The process by which plants produce their own food is known as photosynthesis. The photosynthesis process happens mostly in the leaves of the plant which are also known as the ‘kitchen of the plant’. In some cases, stems also have the potential to carry out photosynthesis.

In photosynthesis, starch is produced when solar energy is transformed into chemical energy. To complete photosynthesis, different parts of a plant play different roles.

  • Leaves: They are the food factories of the plant
  • Stomata: It is present in the lower epidermis of the leaf which uses carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air.
  • Roots: They absorb minerals and water from the soil and carry it to different parts of the plant.

Vascular plant leaves have a superior structure called chloroplasts that possess chlorophyll. In the existence of sunlight, plants manufacture glucose by using carbon dioxide and water. The stomata present in the leaf releases both oxygen and water as a by–product through the daytime. The manufactured food is transported to various parts of the plant for storage and use. By using nitrogen, these green plants make proteins, which could be acquired from the soil.

All the minerals dissolved in water are used to convert sugar into proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. These food components serve as the source of energy for other heterotrophic animals and plants. Glucose is created by this process and converted into a variety of compounds like cellulose and starch which are stored in different parts of the plant.

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The Leaf

As mentioned before, the procedure of photosynthesis happens in the plant’s leaf. This leaf is anatomically separated into many layers. Photosynthesis occurs in the mesophyll layer of the leaf, the middle layer also referred to as palisade parenchyma. These mesophyll cells are rich in unique cell organelles known as chloroplasts that are responsible for the photosynthesis process.


Leaves also have small openings on their undersurface called ‘stomata’ which are responsible for gaseous exchange and are a source of CO2 that enters the leaf.


What is a chloroplast?

These are unique organelles inside which the photosynthesis process occurs. Chloroplasts are the double-membrane organelles. The Chloroplast consists of disc-shaped thylakoids that are arranged together. Stacked thylakoids are referred to as ‘grana’. The pigment chlorophyll is also present in the membrane of the thylakoid.


Photosynthesis Process

The two stages into which the photosynthesis process has been divided are as follows:


Light Reaction

This reaction is a light-dependent reaction and it is required to generate energy molecules such as ATP and NADPH. This reaction happens in the thylakoid membrane of the chloroplast where the sunlight activities the reaction of chlorophyll pigment.

The stimulated chlorophyll releases an electron which is taken by the H2 of water after its splitting. The reactions that occur are redox reactions and ultimately lead to the development of energy molecules – ATP and NADPH, which are then necessary for the subsequent synthesizing reactions that happen in the dark reaction


Dark reaction

This reaction does not literally happen in the dark but it is named so because it is independent of light (no light is required). This reaction will occur both in the presence and absence of sun rays. Because of the scientists, who worked to find out about this phenomenon, this reaction is also known as the Calvin – Benson – Bassham cycle.

This reaction occurs in the stroma that is present in the chloroplast. This reaction uses the energy molecules formed in the light phase of photosynthesis and converts CO2 into glucose.

The equation that summarizes the photosynthesis method:

6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2   (in the presence of sunlight)


What are the factors affecting the photosynthesis process?

Some factors that encourage or inhibit photosynthesis depending on their concentration are as follows:

  • Light
  • Temperature
  • Oxygen
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)


What is the purpose of photosynthesis?

For plants, photosynthesis helps produce glucose to be able to produce energy to perform other functions like transport of water and minerals throughout the plant and respiration. Plants require energy also to make other biochemical and biological methods to enable it to multiply. For other organisms, plants act as food.


Chemoautotrophic Nutrition

An organism that can make its own food with the aid of chemical energy does not require sunlight. This nutrition can only be possible at night time, for e.g. Hydrogen bacteria, Nitrosomonas, etc.


Sources for Chemoautotrophic Nutrition

  • Energy source: Chemicals (Chemo)
  • Carbon source: Environmental Carbon Dioxide such as Extremophiles
  • Halophiles (Salt-Loving Bacteria): Halophiles are organisms that thrive in very high salt concentrations. They are a kind of extremophile organism. (The name derives from the Greek word that means “salt-loving”).
  • Methanogens (Do not confuse with methanotrophs).
  • The bacteria as well as archaea that live in the deep-sea ocean.


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