19 + Saprophytic Bacteria Examples:Detailed Facts Around It

In this article, we will explore interesting facts about different saprophytic bacteria.

Saprophytic bacteria play a significant role in sustaining the nutrient cycle. The term saprophyte is derived from the Greek words ‘sapros’ and ‘phyton’ indicating the one who decays plant matter. These bacteria find a prominent use in several biotechnological applications. Let us learn about a few saprophytic bacteria examples.

Saprophytic bacteria examples:

In the following section, we have discussed in detail the above-mentioned saprophytic bacteria.

Cytophaga hutchinsonii

C. hutchinsoniiis a gram-negative, aerobic, soil bacterium first classified in 1929 by Sergei Winogradsky. It is known to degrade crystalline cellulose to glucose with the help of multiple degrading enzymes. This bacterium shows gliding motility without involving flagella.

Escherichia coli

E. coli feed on different meat and food products in nature, and those when consumed by humans cause serious food-borne infections.

Zymomonas mobilis

Z. mobilis is capable of fermenting glucose, sucrose, and fructose to produce carbon dioxide and ethanol. It can grow at 25-30 0C.

Acetobacter aceti

Acetobacter aceti is an economically valuable obligate anaerobic bacterium. It plays a significant role in the production of vinegar by converting the ethanol present in wine or cider into acetic acid. It can grow at 25-30 0C and 5.4 to 6.3 pH.

Clostridium aceto-butylicum

C. aceto-butylicum played a key role during World War I in 1914. It was extensively used for the production of acetone, a solvent required to produce smokeless gunpowder ‘cordite’. This bacterium has also found its use in pharmaceutical research for the delivery of therapeutic drugs in the body.

Geobacillus stearothermophilus

G. stearuothermophilus aerobically oxidizes carbon monoxide.

Clostridium thermosaccharolyticium

C. thermosaccharolyticium produces ethanol and acetic acid by fermenting pentose and hexose carbohydrates.

Staphylococcus saprophyticus

S. saprophyticus is known to be associated with urinary tract infection and are incapable of reducing nitrate.

Achromobacter xylosoxidans

Achromobacter xylosoxidans is a non-fermenting aerobic bacterium.

Alcaligenes faecalis

Alcaligenes faecalis is a nitrifying bacterium. It can generate nitrate and nitrite by oxidizing ammonia.

Bacillus subtilis

B. subtilis increases the ammonia-nitrogen content of the water body by decomposing nitrogen-rich organic litter.

Mycobacterium marinum

M. marinum is a slow-growing pathogenic bacterium.

Micrococcus antarcticus

M. antarcticus is a cold-adapted, gram-positive bacterium and is reported to cause pneumonia.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

P. aeruginosa is capable of decomposing hydrocarbons. It is found in both man-made and natural environments.

Pseudomonas syringae

P. syringae grows in the phylloshpere as a saptrotroph. It exhibits its pathogenicity by invading a plant, forming biofilm, and overcoming host resistance.

Pseudomonas fluorescens

P. fluorescens breaks down the dead organic matter present in water bodies and soil.

saprophytic bacteria examples
Pseudomonas fluorescens from Wikimedia

Streptomyces species

Species from the genus Streptomyces are well-known decomposers. They produce geosmin while feeding on plant matter. Geosmin provides an earthy smell.

Azotobacter species

The species of the genus Azotobacter are free-living bacteria capable of fixing nitrogen.


Rhizobia bacteria help the plants to utilize a ready form of nitrogen by fixing atmospheric nitrogen gas.

Thiobacillus ferrooxidans

T. ferrooxidans is capable of oxidizing soluble ferrous iron at 2.5 pH.

Magnetospirillum magneticum

M. magneticum produces magnetic materials such as biogenic magnetite which acts as a biomarker of environmental change. This bacterium aids in establishing environmental history.

What are saprophytic organisms?

Saprophytic organisms feed on non-living organic matter. They play a vital role in increasing the mineral content of the soil by decomposing dead plants and animals and converting the food waste into the compost bins. The mineral-rich soil around the saprophytic organisms allows the growth of healthy plants. The saprophytic organisms cannot prepare their own food because of their inability to perform photosynthesis. Several fungi and some flowering plants and bacteria belong to this group.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why saprophytes are important?

Saprophytes maintain the nutrients cycle efficiently by feeding on dead organic matter and making the nutrients available to plants in a ready form.

What are the examples of saprophytic organisms?

Examples of saprophytic organisms include: bacteria, fungi, mushrooms, moulds, earthworms, etc.

Is yeast a saprophyte?

Yeast is a saprophyte that feeds on dead and decaying organisms.

What are the examples of saprophyte plants?

Examples of saprophytic plants include Indian pipe, mushrooms, Mycorrhizal fungi, etc.

How saprophytes obtain their food?

Saprophytes decompose the dead organic matter by extracellular digestion. They secrete digestive substances in their surroundings and break down the organic matter.

Why saprophytes cannot prepare their own food?

Saprophytes cannot perform photosynthesis due to the lack of chlorophyll, hence they need to feed on dead substances.

Do saprophytes clean the environment?

Yes, saprophytes clean the environment by decomposing dead matter.

Moumita Nath

Hi..I am Moumita Nath, I have completed my Master's in Biotechnology. I always like to explore new areas in the field of Biotechnology. Apart from this, I like to read, travel and listen to Music.

Recent Posts