Bacteria Autotrophs Or Heterotrophs? 11 Facts You should Know

In this article we will discuss about “are bacteria autotrophs or heterotrophs” with 11 facts in detail.

The bacteria are categorized into two, autotrophs mean “self-feeders” who prepare their food by themselves or heterotrophs mean “other feeders”, they all rely on others, not able to make food by themselves.

Now take a look at 11 facts about are bacteria autotrophs or heterotrophs in detail

How are bacteria autotrophs?

The word “autotroph” means one kind of primary producer at the base of the food chain in other words it is the organisms who can make their food by taking some inorganic substance into their body and using some chemical energy or harvest some energy which store in nature to convert it into an organic substance.

Simply, most autotrophic bacteria use the photosynthesis process to make their food. Autotrophs are very important at all because they are the main primary producers, of free-living and are found in oceans, water bodies, or soil they can perform several reactions and can sustain their life in harsh or extreme conditions or environments.

Are all bacteria autotrophs?

All Bacteria are not autotrophs, some of them are heterotrophs.Some types of bacteria use energy in the form of light to prepare their own food same as the process of photosynthesis.These bacteria do not come in the category of autotrophs because they all rely on others, not able to make food by themselves.

Bacteria can be parasitic or saprophytes. It can also be chemosynthetic autotrophs or Photosynthetic. Most living organisms include fungi, protists, or bacteria, protozoa are heterotrophic, they all depend on autotrophs as they don’t have chlorophyll, thus they are also known as a consumer.

Are most bacteria autotrophic or heterotrophic?

Bacteria can be both, but most of the abundant bacteria are heterotrophs. Heterotrophic bacteria are universally present in all types of vegetation, food, soil, water, and air. Such bacteria get the organic material from the environment to grow.

Heterotroph means “other feeder” or “consumers” which means it can’t make its food like an autotroph, it can get its food from another source or the food can provide by the environment. while autotroph means “self-feeder” and acts as a primary producer. Autotrophs are placed at the primary level in the food chain. It is a member of certain unicellular organisms like cyanobacteria and the chlorophyll or chloroplast is mainly responsible for the preparation of food

Which type of bacteria is autotrophic?

Two different types of bacteria are autotrophic.


A unique characteristic of these bacteria is that they thrive at temperatures high enough to kill other organisms. They live in deep-sea vents in the ocean in a very extreme environment also termed “Extremophiles” This type of autotrophic bacteria get energy from oxidizing inorganic compounds like iron and ammonia, hydrogen sulfide.

It can also takes to water and carbon dioxide from an environment and converts them into the sulfur compound to create sugars and carbohydrates via a metabolic process.

The examples include, Erwinia, Agrobacterium, Pseudomonas syringae, Stigmatella, Streptomyces,Nitrogen-fixing bacteria like Nitrosomonas, Nitrobacter, Rhizobium, Frankia,Sulfur-oxidizing chemoautotrophs like Thermothrix, Thiobacillus,Cyanobacteria like nostoc,Ananbaena,Oscillatoria,Spirulina,Archaea: Methanococcus, Methanospirillum, Pyrolobus, Thermoplasma,Hydrogen bacteria like Helicobacter pylori, Hydrogenobacter thermophiles


This type of autotrophic bacteria obtains energy directly from the sun and creates its food using inorganic sulfur compounds for carrying out various cellular metabolic processes such as respiration and biosynthesis. such a type of bacteria is also termed Holophytic.

They are the most common primary producers in most marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Green plants or some cyanobacterium in the presence of sunlight convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates.The examples of photoautotroph, include Purple sulfur bacteria, purple non-sulfur bacteria, green sulfur bacteria, Oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria,Some higher plants like grasses or maize plants, Some cyanobacteria, Euglena, and green algae.

Are all bacteria heterotrophic?

Not all bacteria are heterotrophic, If we compare them to autotrophs, most of the bacteria are heterotrophs in the environment. The numbers of heterotrophic bacteria are abundant in an environment.

Heterotrophs can’t make its food like an autotroph, it can get its food from another source because they all are act as a consumers.These bacteria are mainly responsible for the organic matter decomposition process. The bacteria also help in nitrogen fixation and nutrient recycling.Some most common heterotrophic bacteria include, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Desulfovibrio desulfuricans, Escherichia coli, Agarobacterium, Xanthomonas, Rhizobum, Salmonella and pseudomonas

Which type of bacteria are Heterotrophs?

Most heterotrophic bacteria exist as symbionts, omnipresent, or parasites. As per their habitat, food source, and association with other organisms, these bacteria are classified into different types of categories include, including Symbiotic, Parasitic, and Saprophytic.

There are two types of heterotrophs, Chemoheterotrophs-By the use of carbon dioxide and oxidation of organic compounds and they get energy.Photoheterotrophs-These heterotrophs cannot use carbon dioxide but they can get carbon from different types of compounds including fatty acids and carbohydrates.According to their energy source, The heterotrophs can be divided into, Lithotrops or organotroph, and another way of classifying them is chemolithoheterotrophs and photoorganoheterotrophs.Here are some examples of heterotrophic bacteria include, Purple non-sulfur bacteria, Rhodospirillaceae, Oceanithermus profundusPseudomonas syringae, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Clostridium tetani, Bordetella pertussis, Corynebacterium diphtheria, Xanthomonas campestris, Xanthomonas axonopodis, Pseudomonas solanacearum.

How are bacteria heterotrophs?

The main characteristics of this bacteria has a cellular and simple structure having cell walls, Cytoplasm, Pilli, Flagellum, Capsule, ribosomes, and chromosomes which lack a membrane-bound nucleus.It is a type of bacteria that takes sugar for their need to grow, survive and reproduce.

These bacteria are most abundant and widely distributed and it is opposed to autotroph.The shape of the bacteria depends on the size and the type of bacteria. Heterotrophic bacteria most commonly found in each domain of life include Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya. Examples of heterotrophs include streptococcus, streptomyces, Lactobacillus,Alcanivorax, Methylocella silvestris and many more have various economic applications

Are green bacteria heterotrophic or autotrophic?

The majority of green or green sulfur bacteria are spherical or rod-shaped, mesophilic, non-motile, and mainly photolithoautotroph. All green bacteria mostly come in the category of autotrophic bacteria, because they use some reduced sulfur compound and light energy as a source of the electron.

Green sulfur bacteria image from Wikipedia

The green autotrophic bacteria also contain some Bacteriochlorophylls and mostly require anaerobic conditions, preferred moderate temperature and in the low light conditions they mostly capable of photosynthesis. these bacteria can able to metabolize sulfur.They can live in anerobic conditions or aquatic environment.Some other example of autotrophic green bacteria is Chlorobium tepidum some others include Helicobacteria, phototrophic acid bacteria, purple sulfur bacteria,purple non-sulfur bacteria, and filamentous anoxygenic phototrophs.

Are pathogenic bacteria autotrophs or heterotrophs?

All pathogenic bacteria are heterotrophic because they obtain energy and nutrition via ingesting biomass and oxidizing organic molecules like lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates from the environment, It can directly attack to get nutrients for their growth which causes damage to a host and the decomposition of organic matter is the main function of heterotrophic bacteria.

Thus, pathogenic heterotrophic bacteria are also known as decomposers. They may be either anaerobic or aerobic. Two common heterotrophic bacteria namely Aeromonas and Pseudomonas act as pathogenic. These bacteria act as a consumer to depend on other microorganisms for their nutrition, growth, and survival, they are also capable to release or emit some toxic agents which it can affect other individuals in nature. Some examples are: Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas, Agrobacterium, Salmonella, and Xanthomonas, Acinetobacter, corynebacteria, Klebsillea, Listeria, Micrococcus, Staphylococcus

Are archaebacteria autotrophs or heterotrophs?

Archaebacteria can be either autotrophs or heterotrophs, but in the majority, archaea are classified as autotrophs, obligate anaerobes and they make their food from simple organic molecules like sugar. They also use some different kinds of basic substances like metals, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen or they can use chemosynthesis and photosynthesis processes for their food production, nutrition, and growth.

They use light via photosynthesis to power their food production. They are very metabolically diverse. The autotrophic archaebacteria were also known as extremophiles because they live in very harsh environments, they are several thermophilic archaea bacteria that can live in very hot seafloors and hot springs. these bacteria also divided into two groups include organotroph which uses organic compounds while other is lithotrophs which use the inorganic compound for energy. Some examples include Archaebacteria, Halobacterium, Pyrolobus, Acidilobus saccharovorans, Staphylothermus Hellenic, Sulfolobus solfataricus, Thermoproteus tenax.

Are chemosynthetic bacteria autotrophic or heterotrophic?

Chemosynthetic bacteria are a group of autotrophic bacteria because they make their food by the use of chemical energy for production. They need some energy source as well as a carbon source for food manufacturing. They play a very important role economically in recycling of different kinds of nutrients including iron,phosphorus, and nitrogen.

The chemosynthetic bacteria are also known as a group of photosynthetic bacteria because they all can oxidize various inorganic substances. These bacteria can survive in harsh or extreme environmental conditions or varieties of habitats. Most of these allteria rely on oxygen, which means they are aerobic. but some of the species are associated with anaerobic chemosynthesis as well. for example, Sulfuricurvum kujienese. Some other examples of autotrophic chemosynthetic bacteria include Ferrooxidans, Venenivibrio stagnispumantis, Sulfur bacteria including paracoccus, Nitrogen-fixing bacteria, hydrogen bacteria.

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