Skip to main content
Select Source:

autotroph

autotroph (ôt´ətrōf´), in biology, an organism capable of synthesizing its own organic substances from inorganic compounds. Autotrophs produce their own sugars, lipids, and amino acids using carbon dioxide as a source of carbon, and ammonia or nitrates as a source of nitrogen. Organisms that use light for the energy to synthesize organic compounds are called photosynthetic autotrophs; organisms that oxidize such compounds as hydrogen sulfide (H2S) to obtain energy are called chemosynthetic autotrophs, or chemotrophs. Photosynthetic autotrophs include the green plants, certain algae, and the pigmented sulfur bacteria (see photosynthesis). Chemotrophs include the iron bacteria, the nitrifying bacteria, and the nonpigmented sulfur bacteria (see chemosynthesis). Heterotrophs are organisms that must obtain their energy from organic compounds.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"autotroph." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"autotroph." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/autotroph

"autotroph." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/autotroph

autotroph

autotroph An organism that uses carbon dioxide as its main or sole source of carbon. Compare heterotroph.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"autotroph." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"autotroph." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/autotroph

"autotroph." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/autotroph

autotroph

autotroph An organism that uses carbon dioxide as its main or sole source of carbon. Compare HETEROTROPH.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"autotroph." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"autotroph." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/autotroph-0

"autotroph." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/autotroph-0

autotroph

autotroph An organism that uses carbon dioxide as its main or sole source of carbon. Compare HETEROTROPH.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"autotroph." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"autotroph." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/autotroph-1

"autotroph." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/autotroph-1