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A heterotrophic organism (including bacteria and fungi) which breaks down the complex compounds of dead protoplasm, absorbs some decomposition products, and releases substances usable by consumers. Also known as microcomposer; microconsumer; reducer.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an apparatus that decomposes aluminate solutions in order to isolate crystalline aluminum hydroxide.

A decomposer is fitted with a mechanical stirrring device or an air mixer. A decomposer with mechanical stirring consists of a steel tank (diameter and height, 8 m), inside which a chain stirrer turns slowly in order to keep the seeding crystals in suspension. Air-stirred decomposers have come into extensive use (height, about 30 m; diameter, 8 m; available capacity, over 1,000 cu m). The stirring equipment consists of two vertical tubes along the decomposer’s axis. The inner tube, through which compressed air is sent under a pressure of 0.5 meganewtons per sq m, is 300 mm shorter than the outer one.

Air mixing with the solution forms an air-pulp mixture less dense than the pulp itself. Rising through the space between the tubes, this mixture attracts adjacent layers of pulp, mixes with them, and creates continuous upward motion of the pulp. Decomposers are connected in series (10-15 units). The aluminate solution and seeding are sent continuously to the head decomposers of each series, while the hydrated pulp is removed continuously from the tail end.


Lainer, A. I. Proizvodstvo glinozema. Moscow, 1961.
Beliaev, A. I. Metallurgiia legkikh metallov, 6th ed. Moscow, 1970.




a saprophytic organism that mineralizes dead organic matter, that is, breaks organic matter down into more or less simple inorganic compounds. The overwhelming majority of decomposers are microorganisms that live in soil and water. They belong to the group of consumers.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Five students had p-prims at the pre-interview associated with the idea that decomposers break things down.
These results can be explained by the mode of action of the decomposer microorganisms, which initially act on the organic matter of the sewage sludge, since it is a material of easy decomposition and high energetic value (Lerch et al., 1993).
In addition, the present trials were conducted during a period of relatively low annual rainfall, and therefore only represented the responses of decomposers and microbes to the treatments outside of high rainfall periods.
Their presence may influence the health of the local ecosystem, for example as parasites and decomposers of cave insects, including beetles and crickets (Kuehn and Koehn, 1991; Gunde-Cimerman et al., 1998; Santamaria and Faille, 2007).
That lack of salt keeps decomposer numbers in check, while plants, which don't need salt, flourish, piling up carbon on the forest floor when they die.
The new assay, however, may change that by making it possible for scientists to quickly screen the genes in masses of anonymous microbes taken from the forest floor, compost heaps, or other outdoor places where decomposers live and work.
Large molecular weight compounds found in leaves such as lignin also play a role in slowing down the decomposition process as decomposers must first release enzymes to break down these large molecules (Melillo and others 1982).
These decomposers, organisms that feed on dead matter, go to work breaking down leaves to create energy-filled food for themselves.
Discover how scavengers and decomposers clean up the earth.
These beetles are late-stage decomposers, meaning they do not eat fresh meat.
The search for excellent enzymes has taken chemist Charles Lee, and co-workers with the Albany center's Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering Research Unit, to outdoor places where decomposers live and work.
The nickel pellets used are a bulk sample ("run of mill") taken from the decomposers at Inco's nickel refinery at Copper Cliff, Ontario.