In order to begin to know the meaning of the term autotrophs, one must first discover its etymological origin. In this case, it can be said that it is a word that is a neologism formed from the sum of two words of Greek origin:
-The noun “autos”, which can be translated as “by itself”.
-The name "trophos", which is synonymous with "food" or "nutrition."
He adjective autotroph it is used to rate the organisms that can take inorganic substances and transform them into the organic materials they need to survive .
Autotrophic organisms, therefore, can synthesize organic substances from other inorganic ones. This means that do not require feeding on other living beings .
Said in a simplified way, the autotrophic beings are those who are responsible for the generation of their own food . Its carbon source is carbon dioxide, while producing Energy from chemical elements or from the light .
Among the autotrophic organisms we find the plants and some bacteria . In the case of plants, these species resort to photosynthesis : the process that allows to convert inorganic matter into organic by light. The light energy they receive from the sun's rays is transformed into chemical energy, storing it in adenosine triphosphate molecules (known as ATP ). Then he ATP It enables the synthesis of other more stable organic molecules.
Other autotrophic organisms appeal to the chemosynthesis . These are bacteria that synthesize the ATP taking the energy released in reactions of inorganic compounds that have been reduced.
When talking about autotrophic nutrition, it is established that it consists of three fundamental phases:
-Membrane step. This is the phase in which what are simple inorganic molecules (water, carbon dioxide and salts), through what is direct absorption, cross the cell membrane.
-Metabolism. When this second phase occurs, what takes place is a set of chemical reactions in the area of the cell cytoplasm. This gives rise both to the manufacture of own cellular matter and to obtaining usable biochemical energy. Specifically, this second phase of autotrophic nutrition is divided into three periods: photosynthesis, anabolism, which is also known as the construction phase; and catabolism, which is also called the destruction phase.
-Excretion. With this last phase the nutrition process is over. It basically consists of what is the elimination of the waste products of the previous process, of the metabolism. It is done by what is the cell membrane.
While plants and certain bacteria generate their own food and are autotrophic, other organisms need to feed on other living things to obtain substances that allow them to produce complex organic molecules. All the animals , including at human being , are heterotrophs.
These heterotrophs get energy by breaking down the molecules of the autotrophic organisms they ingest. When a carnivorous animal eats another animal , the energy also has its origin in an autotrophic being (ingested in a first stage by the devoured prey).