In order to begin to know the meaning of the term autotrophs, you 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”.
The adjective autotroph 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 starting from other inorganic ones. This means that they do not require feeding on other living beings.
In a simplified way, autotrophic beings are those who are in charge of the generation of their own food. Their carbon source is carbon dioxide, while they produce Energy from chemical elements or from light.
Among the autotrophic organisms we find the plants already some bacteria. In the case of plants, these species resort to the photosynthesis: the process that makes it possible to convert inorganic matter into organic through light. The light energy that they receive from the sun’s rays is transformed into chemical energy, storing it in molecules of adenosine triphosphate (known as ATP). Then he ATP 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 is made up of three fundamental phases:
-Membrane pass. This is the phase in which the simple inorganic molecules (water, carbon dioxide and salts), through 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 leads to both the manufacture of own cellular matter and the obtaining of usable biochemical energy. Specifically, this second phase of autotrophic nutrition is in turn 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 ends. It basically consists of the elimination of waste products from the previous process, from the metabolism. It is done through what is the cell membrane.
While plants and certain bacteria make their own food and are autotrophic, other organisms need to feed on other living things to obtain the substances that allow them to produce organic molecules of complexity. All the animals, including the human being, are heterotrophs.
These heterotrophs get energy by breaking down the molecules of the autotrophic organisms they ingest. When one carnivorous animal eats another animal, the energy also has its origin in an autotrophic being (ingested in a first stage by the devoured prey).