Heterotroph | Definition, Types & Examples

Heterotroph Definition Biology

A heterotroph is a living organism which cannot able to make their own food by the Fixation of carbon. Due to this, they obtain food or nutrients by the supplementary biological living organisms mostly from plant or animal matter. If we talk about the Food Chain, concept than Heterotrophs is considered as Secondary Consumers and Tertiary consumers. Facultative Heterotrophs are also very common.

Types of Heterotrophs with Examples

Types of Heterotrophs

There are two types of Heterotroph.

  1. Photoheterotrophs
  2. Chemoheterotrophs


Photoheterotrophs are those Heterotrophs which utilize light for an energy source. They are not able to utilize Carbon Dioxide as their solitary carbon source. Examples of Photoheterotrophs are Heliobacteria, Proteobacteria.


Chemoheterotrophs are those Heterotrophs which get their dynamism from the consumption of Organic energy bases like Lipids, Carbohydrates, and Proteins that are being manufactured by other living creatures.

Basically, Fixation of Carbon is the progression of altering Inorganic carbon compounds (CO2) into Organic compounds like Carbohydrates. As occur in the process of Photosynthesis. Living Organisms that can utilize carbon fixation process to make their own nourishment substances, are called Autotrophs. By the consumption of Carbon Reduced Compounds, heterotrophs are capable to utilize whole energy that they utilize for development, imitation and supplementary natural purposes.

Heterotroph and Autotroph



Heterotrophs Examples

Examples of Heterotroph ar described below:


Heterotrophs that eat plants, and attain their nutrients from plants are called Herbivores, or also Primary Consumers. While during the photosynthesis process, multifaceted organic molecules Carbon dioxide is transformed into energy termed as ATP by the Cellular Respiration. The ATP is a generally modest form of Carbohydrates or Monosaccharides, like Glucose, Starch and Cellulose.

Cellulose is basically the principal constituent of Cell Wall of Plant. It is also a copious Carbohydrate, transformed from the Inorganic Carbon. Cellulose is not easier for plants to digest. Various herbivores animals comprised of Symbiotic Intuitive Gut living creature, that help the herbivores to decompose o break Cellulose into an operational energy form.

Starch is a type of Hydrocarbon which is straightforwardly fragmented down by various Animals. It is easy to digest-able. It is digested by an enzyme called Amylase that is released by Salivary Glands and Pancreas of the Human body.

Examples of Herbivores Animals are sheep, cows, deer, deer and other speculative Animals. Speculative animals are those that uproar or ferment the material of plant in specialized chambers which encompasses Symbiotic organisms inside their stomachs.

Animals like birds, monkeys, and bats only eat fruits but they are also considered as Herbivores but they are called Frugivores.

Various insects like moths, butterflies, and hummingbirds eat the plants sugary material which is known as Nectar. Nectar comprised off simple sugars which are also known as Monosaccharides.


The energy which is transported by Food Chain originally comes from the inorganic compounds and then transformed into Organic compounds. Which is basically utilized by Autotrophs as an energy source. And it is also stored inside the Heterotrophs body which is known as Primary Consumers.

The carnivores are the animal that utilizes energy which principally originates from Lipids or Fats which the herbivore has stockpiled them within its body. A very minute quantity of Glycogen is stored inside the Liver and Muscles. Glycogen is basically a polysaccharide of Glucose molecule that obliges as by forming a long-term chain of the energy storage system. Glycogen is utilized by Carnivores for the purpose of Energy intake.

Carnivores are generally knowns as Predators just as the Secondary Consumers. Heterotrophs that eat Herbivores, like birds, frogs, snakes, Zooplanktons, fishes, crabs, shrimps, jellyfish. Hunters or Predators which eat up Carnivores, such as hawks, lions, sharks, and wolves are known as Tertiary Consumers.

Scavengers, animals like vultures or cockroaches, that eat animals which are dead are also known as Carnivores.


Fungi are also Heterotrophic organisms while they cannot swallow their food like the other animals, they get food by the process of Absorption. Fungi comprised of root-like appendages which are called Hyphae, which cultivate and make Hyphal Network on the surface of the substrate by which Fungi obtain its food. Fungal Hyphae release digestive enzymes, that help to fragmented the substrate, and making ingestion of the nutrients possible. Fungi generally forage on various of different substrates, like wood, cheese or flesh. Various fungi classes are scrounging in nature which acquires their nutrition from Host deprived of slaughter them. While Fungi are also Saprobic in nature. Saprobic are those which get food from previously dead or rotten material like Leaf jumble, animal bodies, and other wreckages. These fungi are specialized fungi which recover the nutrients from the lifeless or crumbling material.

Picture of Heterotrophs

Heterotrophic Plants




Heterotrophic Animals