The main difference between saprophytic and symbiotic plants is that saprophytic plants depend on dead organic matter for nutrition whereas symbiotic plants depend on another organism for their nutrition. Furthermore, saprophytic plants undergo extracellular digestion of dead or decaying organic matter followed by absorption of nutrients while symbiotic plants maintain inter-relation with other plants for obtaining nutrients.
Saprophytic and symbiotic plants are two types of plants that obtain nutrients by other methods than photosynthesis. Moreover, Indian pipe family is an example of saprophytic plants while Rafflesia is an example of a symbiotic plant.
Key Areas Covered
1. What are Saprophytic Plants
– Definition, Mode of Nutrition, Examples
2. What are Symbiotic Plants
– Definition, Mode of Nutrition, Examples
3. What are the Similarities Between Saprophytic and Symbiotic Plants
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Saprophytic and Symbiotic Plants
– Comparison of Key Differences
Commensalism, Dead Organic Matter, Mutualism, Parasitism, Saprophytic Plants, Symbiotic Plants
What are Saprophytic Plants
Saprophytic plants are the plants that depend on dead or decaying organic matter for obtaining their nutrients. Moreover, they are heterotrophs and belong to the consumer level of the food chain. Generally, ‘saprophytes’ is an old term used to describe organisms that feed on dead or decaying organic matter. In the past, all fungi and bacteria that feed on the dead organic matter were considered as saprophytes. But, –phytes means plants.
However, land plants are not true saprophytes. Most of the fungi and bacteria that maintain this mode of nutrition are now called saprobes. In addition, animals that undergo this mode of nutrition are called sporozoites. Furthermore, the mode of nutrition undergone by saprophytes and sporozoites is saprotrophic nutrition.
What are Symbiotic Plants
Symbiotic plants are the plants that depend on another plant for their nutrition. Generally, symbiosis is any type of close as well as a long-term biological interaction of two different organisms. However, there are three types of symbiotic relationships. They are mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism. Some common examples of mutualism in plants include vascular plants engaging in mutualistic interactions with mycorrhizae, flowering plants being pollinated by animals, and vascular plants being dispersed by animals.
Moreover, epiphytes, which obtain substantial amounts of nutrients from the host plant, are an example of commensalistic plants. On the other hand, parasitic plants including Striga or Rhinanthus are xylem-feeding plants while phloem-feeding plants include Cuscuta and Orobanche. Furthermore, they contain modified roots called haustoria, which connect to the conducting system of the host plant. Holoparasites are the parasitic plants, which completely depend on the host plant for its fixed carbon while hemiparasites are photosynthetic to some degree.
Similarities Between Saprophytic and Symbiotic Plants
- Saprophytic and symbiotic plants are two types of plants that do not obtain energy and organic building blocks from photosynthesis.
- Therefore, they exhibit a heterotrophic nutrition mode.
- Most of them do not contain chloroplasts and do not appear in green colour.
Difference Between Saprophytic and Symbiotic Plants
Saprophytic plants refer to an organism which gets its energy from dead and decaying organic matter while symbiotic plants refer to the plants that maintain close and long-term biological interaction with other plants for obtaining nutrients.
Type of Host
Saprophytic plants depend on a non-living host while symbiotic plants depend on a living host.
Type of Digestion
While saprophytic plants undergo extracellular digestion, symbiotic plants undergo intracellular digestion.
Indian pipe family is an example of saprophytic plants while Rafflesia is an example of a symbiotic plant.
Saprophytic plants are a type of plants that undergo extracellular digestion of organic matter followed by the absorption of nutrients through the cell wall. In contrast, symbiotic plants depend on a living host for obtaining their nutrients. However, their symbiotic relationship can be either parasitic, mutualistic or commensalistic. Therefore, the main difference between saprotrophic and symbiotic plants is the mode of nutrition.
1. “Saprophyte – Definition and Quiz.” Biology Dictionary, 29 Apr. 2017, Available Here.
2. “Symbiosis.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Sept. 2019, Available Here.
1. “Indian pipe PDB” By O18 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons. (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Mistletoe, coming soon to a market near you – geograph.org.uk – 1585249” By Pauline Eccles (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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