10 Main Difference between Autotrophs and Heterotrophs with Table

What is the difference between autotrophs and heterotrophs?

Nutrition is the biological process where a living organism acquires food. Nutrition is classified into autotrophic and heterotrophic nutrition.

The core difference between autotrophs and heterotrophs is that autotrophs are organisms that make their food while heterotrophs are organisms that cannot synthesize their food.

Difference between Autotrophs and Heterotrophs

What Are Autotrophs?

Autotrophs are an organism that can synthesize their food. They synthesize their food through the process of photosynthesis where water, light, and carbon IV oxide are vital factors.

Autotrophs are producers and they are at the primary level of the food web or food chain. They are green plants with chlorophyll that trap light from the sun to manufacture their food.

Examples of food synthesized by autotrophs are sucrose, starches, cellulose, carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. The food provides energy for autotrophs.

What are Heterotrophs?

Heterotrophs are an organism that cannot manufacture their food. These organisms depend on autotrophs for food.

These organisms are primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers from the food web or food chain. All non-green plants and animals belong to heterotrophs.

Comparison Table: Autotrophs Vs Heterotrophs

Basic Terms Autotrophs Heterotrophs
MeaningOrganisms that synthesize their food through photosynthesisOrganisms that cannot synthesize their food
Food Web or Food ChainProducersPrimary, Secondary and Tertiary Consumers
ExamplesAll green plants, algae, and some bacteriaAll animals and non-green plants
Main ComponentsChloroplastLack chloroplast
TypesPhotoautotroph and ChemoautotrophPhotoheterotroph and Chemoheterotroph
Energy SourceFrom food synthesize during photosynthesisFrom food obtain from autotrophs
Hierarchy levelPrimary producers form the food chainDepend on autotrophs as secondary or tertiary consumers
DependenceIndependent organismRely on another organism for food
Energy storageStore sunlight and chemical energyCannot store energy
RoleAct as producerAct as consumers
MovementCannot move from one place to anotherCan move from one place to another
Digestive SystemLack of digestive systemHave a digestive system

Core Difference between Autotrophs and Heterotrophs with Example

  1. Autotrophs make their food while heterotrophs cannot make their food
  2. Autotrophs act as producers while heterotrophs act as secondary or tertiary consumers
  3. Heterotrophs move from one point to another while autotrophs do not move from one place to another
  4. Heterotrophs have a complete digestive system while autotrophs lack a digestive system
  5. Autotrophs have chloroplast while heterotrophs lack chloroplast
  6. Autotrophs can store sunlight and chemical energy while heterotrophs cannot store energy
  7. Autotrophs are independent organisms while heterotrophs depend on other organisms for food
  8. Heterotrophs are grouped as Photoheterotroph and Chemoheterotroph while autotrophs are grouped as Photoautotroph and Chemoautotroph
  9. Examples of autotrophs are all green plants, algae, and some bacteria while heterotrophs examples are all animals and non-green plants
  10. Autotrophs require sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to make their food while heterotrophs do not require anything to obtain food.

Similarities between Autotrophs and Heterotrophs

  1. Both help to maintain the flow of energy in the ecosystem
  2. Both are the classification of nutrition
  3. Both show the relationship between organisms

You May Also Like:

Comparison Video

Summary

The main difference between autotrophs and heterotrophs in point form is that autotrophs make their food while heterotrophs cannot make their food. The two-mode of nutrition provides insights into producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, and tertiary consumers.

Leave a Comment