What are Autophytes and Heterophytes?


As we all know that plants are an important entity of life mainly as a source of food and nutrition. But had we ever thought that how these plants obtain their nutrition or simply say food? Based upon the mode of nutrition plants are categorised into two groups i.e., Autophytes and Heterophytes.

Autophytes: Autophytes or autotrophic plants are those that are capable of synthesizing their own food by using light energy, carbon dioxide and water by a process called photosynthesis. For this reason autotrophic plants are also considered as the primary producers. However few bacteria can also produce their own food by using chemical energy. Autophytes includes green plants, algae and few bacteria.

Heterophytes: Heterophytes or heterotrophic plants are those plants that are incapable of synthesizing their own food. These forms of plants mainly depend on other living organisms for their source of nutrition.
Heterophytes can be parasitic (partial or total) or saprophytic. For instance Cuscuta reflexa is a total stem parasite and Santalum album is a partial root parasite. Saprophytes includes Monotropa, Epipogon, Corallorhiza etc.  Apart parasitic and saprophytes few plants exhibits symbiotic association with the host plants. The most common form of symbiotic relationship is represented in mycorrhiza, where fungi lives in symbiotic relationship within the roots of higher plants.




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