As human beings, we need to eat living things for energy.

Other organisms are able to make their own food. Autotrophs can provide energy sources for themselves as well as for those of us who can’t produce it on our own.

Our Authors Write a Custom Essay
For Only $13.90/page!


order now

Autotrophs Defined

Every living thing needs energy in order to survive. We get this energy from the foods that we eat.

The things that we eat were once living things and are full of energy themselves. Living things that need to eat other living things to survive are called heterotrophs, or ‘other feeders.’ Because heterotrophs cannot make their own food, they are called consumers.

But imagine that you could eat without actually eating. This is exactly what autotrophs do. Autotrophs are self-feeders, and they get their energy from non-living sources such as the sun and carbon dioxide. Autotrophs are called producers because they provide energy and food sources for all heterotrophic organisms.

Types of Autotrophs

There are two types of autotrophs: photoautotrophs and chemoautotrophs.

Photoautotrophs get their energy from sunlight and convert it into usable energy (sugar). This process is called photosynthesis. During the process of photosynthesis, not only is sunlight turned into energy, but carbon dioxide is taken from the air and oxygen is released in its place. Because animals depend on this oxygen to breathe, we should be very thankful for this exchange!Chemoautotrophs get their energy from chemicals, mainly inorganic substances such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. Inorganic substances are those that are not from biological sources, and they do not contain carbon as a main element. Chemoautotrophs are able to survive in very harsh environmental conditions because the only source of carbon they need is carbon dioxide.

Examples of Autotrophs

Most plants are autotrophs, but all autotrophic plants are photoautotrophs. Plants have structures called chloroplasts that allow them to capture the sunlight used for photosynthesis. Plants also get nutrition from water, various minerals in the soil, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, and carbon dioxide in the air.Algae are also photoautotrophs.

Algae are small organisms that are usually found in aquatic environments. While algae also have chloroplasts and may sometimes look like plants, they are very different. Plants are stationary – they set up roots and do not move once they start to grow. Algae do not need to be rooted in one place. Also, plants are multicellular, whereas algae can either be multicellular or unicellular.

Bacteria may be either photoautotrophs or chemoautotrophs. Cyanobacteria are photoautotrophs, and some live while others are found in aquatic environments. Cyanobacteria are probably most famous for causing blooms. The blooms usually look like scum on the water and can be very toxic.

Examples of chemoautotrophic bacteria are nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the soil and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria in deep sea thermal vents.

Lesson Summary

Living things that need to eat other living things to survive are called heterotrophs, or ‘other feeders.’ Because heterotrophs cannot make their own food, they are called consumers. Autotrophs are self-feeders, and they get their energy from non-living sources such as the sun and carbon dioxide. Autotrophs are called producers because they provide energy and food sources for all heterotrophic organisms.Photoautotrophs get their energy from sunlight and convert it into usable energy (sugar).

This process is called photosynthesis. Chemoautotrophs get their energy from chemicals, mainly inorganic substances such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. Inorganic substances are those that are not from biological sources, and they do not contain carbon as a main element.

Plants have structures called chloroplasts that allow them to capture the sunlight used for photosynthesis.

Learning Outcomes

Once you are done with this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Identify energy producers and energy consumers
  • Describe the two types of autotrophs
  • Recall some features of autotrophs that help produce energy
x

Hi!
I'm Sigvald

Do you need a custom essay? How about ordering an essay here?

Check it out