AskDefine | Define heterotrophic

Dictionary Definition

heterotrophic adj : requiring organic compounds of carbon and nitrogen for nourishment; "most animals are heterotrophic" [ant: autotrophic]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Being a heterotroph.


Extensive Definition

A heterotroph, or chemoorganotroehy (Greek heterone = (an)other and trophe = nutrition), is an organism that requires organic substrates to get its carbon for growth and development.
A heterotroph is known as a consumer in the chain. Contrast with autotrophs which use inorganic carbon dioxide or bicarbonate as sole carbon source. All animals are heterotrophic, as well as fungi and many bacteria. Some parasitic plants have also turned fully or partially heterotrophic, whereas carnivorous plants use their flesh diet to augment their nitrogen supply, but are still autotrophic.
Heterotrophs are unable to synthesize organic carbon-based compounds independently from the inorganic environment's sources (e.g. Animalia, unlike Plantae, cannot photosynthesize) and therefore must obtain their nutrition from another heterotroph or an autotroph.
For a species to be termed a heterotroph, it must obtain its carbon from organic compounds. If it obtains nitrogen from organic compounds, but not energy, it will be deemed an autotroph. If a species obtains carbon from organic compounds then there are two possible subtypes of these heterotrophs:
In simpler terminology, a heterotroph is an organism that is incapable of making its own food from light or inorganic compounds, and feeds on organisms or the remains of other organisms to get its necessary energy to survive.
heterotrophic in Catalan: Heterotròfia
heterotrophic in Czech: Heterotrofie
heterotrophic in Danish: Heterotrof
heterotrophic in German: Heterotrophie
heterotrophic in Estonian: Heterotroof
heterotrophic in Spanish: Nutrición heterótrofa
heterotrophic in Esperanto: Heterotrofo
heterotrophic in Basque: Heterotrofo
heterotrophic in French: Hétérotrophie
heterotrophic in Croatian: Heterotrofni organizmi
heterotrophic in Indonesian: Heterotrof
heterotrophic in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Heterotropho
heterotrophic in Icelandic: Ófrumbjarga lífvera
heterotrophic in Italian: Eterotrofia
heterotrophic in Hebrew: הטרוטרוף
heterotrophic in Lithuanian: Heterotrofai
heterotrophic in Dutch: Heterotroof
heterotrophic in Japanese: 従属栄養生物
heterotrophic in Norwegian: Heterotrofi
heterotrophic in Norwegian Nynorsk: Heterotrofi
heterotrophic in Occitan (post 1500): Eterotrofia
heterotrophic in Polish: Cudzożywność
heterotrophic in Portuguese: Heterotrofismo
heterotrophic in Romanian: Heterotrof
heterotrophic in Russian: Консументы
heterotrophic in Simple English: Heterotroph
heterotrophic in Slovak: Heterotrofia
heterotrophic in Slovenian: Heterotrof
heterotrophic in Finnish: Toisenvaraisuus
heterotrophic in Swedish: Heterotrofi
heterotrophic in Thai: เฮเทโรทรอพ
heterotrophic in Tajik: Ҳетеротроф
heterotrophic in Ukrainian: Гетеротрофи
heterotrophic in Venetian: Eterotrofìa
heterotrophic in Chinese: 消费者 (生物)
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