Heterotroph vs. Consumer

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Heterotroph and Consumer is that the Heterotroph is a organism that ingests or absorbs organic carbon (rather than fix carbon from inorganic sources such as carbon dioxide) in order to be able to produce energy and synthesize compounds to maintain its life and Consumer is a person or group of people that are the final users of products and or services; one who pays something to consume goods and services produced.

  • Heterotroph

    A heterotroph (; Ancient Greek ἕτερος héteros = “other” plus trophe = “nutrition”) is an organism that cannot produce its own food, relying instead on the intake of nutrition from other sources of organic carbon, mainly plant or animal matter. In the food chain, heterotrophs are secondary and tertiary consumers. Ninety-five percent or more of all types of living organisms are heterotrophic, including all animals and fungi and some bacteria and protists. The term heterotroph arose in microbiology in 1946 as part of a classification of microorganisms based on their type of nutrition. The term is now used in many fields, such as ecology in describing the food chain.

    Heterotrophs may be subdivided according to their energy source. If the heterotroph uses chemical energy, it is a chemoheterotroph (e.g., humans and mushrooms). If it uses light for energy, then it is a photoheterotroph (e.g., green non-sulfur bacteria).

    Heterotrophs represent one of the two mechanisms of nutrition (trophic levels), the other being autotrophs (auto = self, troph = nutrition). Autotrophs use energy from sunlight (photoautotrophs) or inorganic compounds (lithoautotrophs) to convert inorganic carbon dioxide to organic carbon compounds and energy to sustain their life. Comparing the two in layman’s terms, heterotrophs (such as animals) eat either autotrophs (such as plants) or other heterotrophs, or both.

    Detritivores are heterotrophs which obtain nutrients by consuming detritus (decomposing plant and animal parts as well as feces). Saprotrophs (also called lysotrophs) are chemoheterotrophs that use extracellular digestion in processing decayed organic matter. It is a term most often associated with fungi. The process is most often facilitated through the active transport of such materials through endocytosis within the internal mycelium and its constituent hyphae.

  • Consumer

    A consumer is a person or organization that use economic services or commodities.

  • Heterotroph (noun)

    An organism which requires an external supply of energy in the form of food as it cannot synthesize its own.

  • Consumer (noun)

    One who, or that which, consumes.

  • Consumer (noun)

    someone who trades money for goods as an individual.

    “This new system favours the consumer over the producer.”

  • Consumer (noun)

    The consumer base of a product, service or business.

    “Our consumers are upwardly mobile and middle-class.”

  • Consumer (noun)

    an organism (heterotroph) that uses other organisms for food in order to gain energy.


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