The main difference between saprotrophs and saprophytes is that saprotrophs are fungi that take nutrients from dead and decaying organic matter, whereas saprophytes are plants that take nutrients from dead and decaying organic matter.
Saprotrophs and saprophytes are two organisms that depend on dead and decaying organic matter for nutrition. They play an important role in recycling organic matter.
Key Areas Covered
1. What are Saprotrophs
– Definition, Features, Importance
2. What are Saprophytes
– Definition, Features, Importance
3. Similarities Between Saprotrophs and Saprophytes
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Saprotrophs and Saprophytes
– Comparison of Key Differences
What are Saprotrophs
Saprotrophs are fungi that rely on dead or decaying organic matter. It means the dead and decaying organic matter is their source of nutrients. They undergo extracellular digestion, and thereby, they secrete enzymes onto the decaying organic matter to externally digest the food and absorb the simple nutrient forms through their cell wall. They break down protein into amino acids by the enzymes called proteases. Also, they break down lipids into fatty acids and glycerol by enzymes called lipases. These simple nutrients can be absorbed by plants as well. Additionally, they break down starch into simple disaccharides by the enzymes called amylases. On the other hand, they break down cellulose into glucose.
Furthermore, some of the nutrients, such as iron, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus in the decaying matter, are released to the soil by saprotrophs. Saprotrophs are decomposers that play an important role in recycling materials in ecosystems. Therefore, saprotrophs are involved in the carbon, phosphorous, and nitrogen cycles as recyclers of dead materials. Saprophytes are either unicellular ameboid or filamentous.
What are Saprophytes
Saprophytes are plants that depend on dead or decaying organic matter to obtain nutrients. 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 dead organic matter are saprophytes. But, –phytes means plants. Therefore, saprophytes are the plants that serve as decomposers. Also, they are heterotrophs and belong to the consumer level of the food chain. It means although they are plants, they do not contain chlorophylls.
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 of saprophytes and sporozoites is saprotrophic nutrition.
Similarities Between Saprotrophs and Saprophytes
- Saprotrophs and saprophytes are two organisms that use dead and decaying organic matter as their nutrient source.
- They break down residing organic matter and absorb nutrients.
- They require 80-90% of water, oxygen, neutral-acidic pH, and low-medium temperature for optimal growth.
- Both are eukaryotes.
Difference Between Saprotrophs and Saprophytes
Saprotrophs are organisms that feed on or derive nourishment from decaying organic matter. At the same time, saprophytes are plants that live on dead or decaying organic matter.
Type of Organism
Saprotrophs are fungi, while saprophytes are plants.
Saprotrophs belong to the kingdom Fungi, while saprophytes belong to the kingdom Plantae.
In brief, saprotrophs and saprophytes are two organisms that undergo extracellular digestion of dead and decaying organic matter as the nutrient source. Saprotrophs are fungi that live on dead and decaying organic matter. They belong to the kingdom of Fungi. In comparison, saprophytes are plants that live on dead and decaying organic matter. They belong to the kingdom Plantae. Therefore, the main difference between saprotrophs and saprophytes is the type of organism.
- Wikimedia Foundation. (2023b, January 27). Saprotrophic nutrition. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saprotrophic_nutrition