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Saprotrophic nutrition

saprotrophic nutrition, saprotrophic nutrition images
Saprotrophic nutrition /sæprəˈtrɒfɪk, -proʊ-/1 or lysotrophic nutrition is a process of chemoheterotrophic extracellular digestion involved in the processing of decayed organic matter It occurs in saprotrophs and heterotrophs, and is most often associated with fungi for example Mucor and soil bacteria Saprotrophic microscopic fungi are sometimes called saprobes; saprotrophic plants or bacterial flora are called saprophytes sapro- + -phyte, "rotten material" + "plant" The process is most often facilitated through the active transport of such materials through endocytosis within the internal mycelium and its constituent hyphae2

Various word roots relating to decayed matter detritus, sapro-, eating and nutrition -vore, -phage, and plants or life forms -phyte, -obe produce various terms, such as detritivore, detritophage, saprotroph, saprophyte, saprophage, and saprobe; their meanings overlap, although technical distinctions based on physiologic mechanisms narrow the senses For example, usage distinctions can be made based on macroscopic swallowing of detritus as an earthworm does versus microscopic lysis of detritus as a mushroom does

A facultative saprophyte appears on stressed or dying plants and may combine with the live pathogenscitation needed


  • 1 Process
    • 11 Conditions
  • 2 See also
  • 3 Notes
  • 4 References


As matter decomposes within a medium in which a saprotroph is residing, the saprotroph breaks such matter down into its composites

  • Proteins are broken down into their amino acid composites through the breaking of peptide bonds by proteases3
  • Lipids are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol by lipases3
  • Starch is broken down into pieces of simple disaccharides by amylases3

These products are re-absorbed into the hypha through the cell wall via endocytosis and passed on throughout the mycelium complex This facilitates the passage of such materials throughout the organism and allows for growth and, if necessary, repair2


In order for a saprotrophic organism to facilitate optimal growth and repair, favourable conditions and nutrients must be present4 Optimal conditions refers to several conditions which optimise the growth of saprotrophic organisms, such as;

  1. Presence of water: 80–90% of the fungi is composed of water by mass, and requires excess water for absorption due to the evaporation of internally retent water4
  2. Presence of oxygen: Very few saprotrophic organisms can endure anaerobic conditions as evidenced by their growth above media such as water or soil4
  3. Neutral-acidic pH: The condition of neutral or mildly acidic conditions under pH 7 are required 4
  4. Low-medium temperature: The majority of saprotrophic organisms require temperatures between 1 °C and 35 °C, with optimum growth occurring at 25 °C4

The majority of nutrients taken in by such organisms must be able to provide carbon, proteins, vitamins and in some cases, ions Due to the carbon composition of the majority of organisms, dead and organic matter provide rich sources of disaccharides and polysaccharides such as maltose and starch, and of the monosaccharide glucose2

In terms of nitrogen-rich sources, saprotrophs require combined protein for the creation of proteins, which is facilitated by the absorption of amino acids, and usually taken from rich soil Although both ions and vitamins are rare, thiamine or ions such as potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium aid the growth of the mycelium2

See alsoedit

  • Fungi portal
  • Mycorrhizal fungi and soil carbon storage
  • Chemoautotrophic nutrition
  • Detritivore
  • Holozoic nutrition
  • Parasitic nutrition
  • Photoautotrophic nutrition
  • Photosynthesis
  • Wood-decay fungus

An organism, especially a fungus or bacterium, that derives its nourishment from dead or decaying organic matter is also called saprobe


  • Clegg, C J; Mackean, D G 2006 Advanced Biology: Principles and Applications, 2nd ed Hodder Publishing
  • Zmitrovich, I V; Wasser, S P; Ţura D 2014 Wood-inhabiting fungi Fungi from different substrates / J K Misra, J P Tewari, S K Deshmukh, C Vágvölgyi eds N Y: CRC Press, Taylor and Francis group, 2014 P 17–74 http://mediawixcom/ugd/b65817_2690a71af41f4486863a9b220827d7b5pdf


  1. ^ "saprotroph - definition of saprotroph in English from the Oxford dictionary" OxfordDictionariescom Retrieved 2016-01-20 
  2. ^ a b c d Advanced biology principles, p 296—states the purpose of saprotrophs and their internal nutrition, as well as the main two types of fungi that are most often referred to, as well as describes, visually, the process of saprotrophic nutrition through a diagram of hyphae, referring to the Rhizobium on damp, stale whole-meal bread or rotting fruit
  3. ^ a b c Advanced Biology Principles, p296, fig 1416—Diagram detailing the re-absorption of substrates within the hypha
  4. ^ a b c d e Advanced Biology Principles, p296 fig 1417—A diagram explaining the optimal conditions needed for successful growth and repair

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