AskDefine | Define saprophyte

Dictionary Definition

saprophyte n : an organism that feeds on dead organic matter especially a fungus or bacterium [syn: saprophytic organism]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Any organism that lives on dead organic matter, as certain fungi and bacteria.


Extensive Definition

A saprotroph (or saprobe) is an organism that obtains its nutrients from non-living organic matter, usually dead and decaying plant or animal matter, by absorbing soluble organic compounds. Since saprotrophs consume external food sources rather than make their own food, they are considered a type of heterotroph.
Many species of fungi, bacteria, and protista are saprotrophs. Animal scavengers, such as dung beetles and vultures, are also sometimes referred to as saprotrophs, but are more commonly called saprophages. In food webs, saprotrophs generally play the role of decomposers. Saprotrophs are often eaten by consumers and therefore commonly play important roles as recyclers in ecosystem energy flow and biogeochemical cycles.
Saprophyte is an older term that is now considered obsolete. The suffix -phyte means "plant". However, there are no truly saprotrophic organisms that are embryophytes, and fungi and bacteria are no longer placed in the Plant Kingdom. Plants that were once considered saprophytes, such as non-photosynthetic orchids and monotropes, are now known to be parasites on fungi. These species are termed myco-heterotrophs.

Further reading

saprophyte in Bulgarian: Сапрофит
saprophyte in Czech: Saprofág
saprophyte in German: Saprobiont
saprophyte in Spanish: Saprotrofia
saprophyte in Persian: پوده‌زی
saprophyte in French: Saprophyte
saprophyte in Icelandic: Rotvera
saprophyte in Italian: Saprofita
saprophyte in Lithuanian: Saprotrofai
saprophyte in Dutch: Saprofyt
saprophyte in Japanese: 腐生植物
saprophyte in Norwegian: Saprofytt
saprophyte in Polish: Saprofity
saprophyte in Portuguese: Saprófita
saprophyte in Russian: Редуценты
saprophyte in Simple English: Saprotroph
saprophyte in Finnish: Saprotrofi
saprophyte in Swedish: Saprofyter
saprophyte in Turkish: Saprotrof
saprophyte in Ukrainian: Сапротрофи
saprophyte in Chinese: 腐生生物

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

algae, autophyte, bean, bracken, brown algae, climber, conferva, confervoid, creeper, diatom, fern, fruits and vegetables, fucus, fungus, grapevine, green algae, gulfweed, herb, heterophyte, ivy, kelp, legume, lentil, liana, lichen, liverwort, mold, moss, mushroom, parasite, parasitic plant, pea, perthophyte, phytoplankton, planktonic algae, plant families, puffball, pulse, red algae, rockweed, rust, sargasso, sargassum, sea lentil, sea moss, sea wrack, seaweed, smut, succulent, toadstool, vetch, vine, wort, wrack
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