chemotroph


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Related to chemotroph: heterotroph, Chemoheterotroph

chemotroph:

see autotrophautotroph
, in biology, an organism capable of synthesizing its own organic substances from inorganic compounds. Autotrophs produce their own sugars, lipids, and amino acids using carbon dioxide as a source of carbon, and ammonia or nitrates as a source of nitrogen.
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Since most of the cells in a multicellular organism would be far removed from the surface where these elements and compounds were readily available (especially in the Precambrian oceans, where this process occurred), this development meant that ultimately, the complex organisms that evolved from this primitive chemotroph cell had to have: 1) a "digestive system" to get water and the nutrients into the body and break the latter down to small enough molecules to move them about.
The phototrophs and chemotrophs (collectively called autotrophs) use energy sources that are inorganic (sunlight and chemical energy respectively), whereas heterotrophs acquire their energy by consuming organics (see Table 2).
If they get their energy from oxidizing organic and inorganic molecules they are chemotrophs.