Decomposers are organisms that break down dead or decaying organisms, and in doing so, they carry out the natural process of decomposition.[1] Like herbivores and predators, decomposers are heterotrophic, meaning that they use organic substrates to get their energy, carbon and nutrients for growth and development. While the terms decomposer and detritivore are often interchangeably used, detritivores must ingest and digest dead matter via internal processes while decomposers can directly absorb nutrients through chemical and biological processes hence breaking down matter without ingesting it.[2] Thus, invertebrates such as earthworms, woodlice, and sea cucumbers are technically detritivores, not decomposers, since they must ingest nutrients and are unable to absorb them externally.[3]

Fungi in Borneo
The fungi on this tree are decomposers.


This decomposer is thought of as a primary source of litter and or waste in the ecosystems. [4]Fungi has been known to produce a selection of prescription drugs along with many other antibiotics. [5]Unlike bacteria, which are unicellular organisms and are decomposers as well, most saprotrophic fungi grow as a branching network of hyphae. While bacteria are restricted to growing and feeding on the exposed surfaces of organic matter, fungi can use their hyphae to penetrate larger pieces of organic matter, below the surface. Additionally, only wood-decay fungi have evolved the enzymes necessary to decompose lignin, a chemically complex substance found in wood.[6] These two factors make fungi the primary decomposers in forests, where litter has high concentrations of lignin and often occurs in large pieces. Fungi decompose organic matter by releasing enzymes to break down the decaying material, after which they absorb the nutrients in the decaying material.[7] Hyphae used to break down matter and absorb nutrients are also used in reproduction. When two compatible fungi hyphae grow close to each other, they will then fuse together for reproduction and form another fungus.[7]

See also


  1. ^ NOAA. ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve: Decomposers.
  2. ^ Trophic level. Eds. M.McGinley & C.J.cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC
  3. ^ "Decomposers". Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  4. ^ "10 Facts about Decomposition". Fact File. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  5. ^ "Introduction to the Fungi".
  6. ^ Blanchette, Robert (September 1991). "Delignification by Wood-Decay Fungi". Annual Review of Phytopathology. 29: 281–403. doi:10.1146/ Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  7. ^ a b Waggoner, Ben; Speer, Brian. "Fungi: Life History and Ecology". Introduction to the Funge=24 January 2014.

Further reading

  • Beare, MH; Hendrix, PF; Cheng, W (1992). "Microbial and faunal interactions and effects on litter nitrogen and decomposition in agroecosystems". Ecological Monographs. 62: 569–591. doi:10.2307/2937317.
  • Hunt HW, Coleman DC, Ingham ER, Ingham RE, Elliot ET, Moore JC, Rose SL, Reid CPP, Morley CR (1987) "The detrital food web in a shortgrass prairie". Biology and Fertility of Soils 3: 57-68
  • Smith TM, Smith RL (2006) Elements of Ecology. Sixth edition. Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco, CA.
A Band in Hope

A Band in Hope (formerly The Mad Silentist) is the third studio album by The Matches and was released on March 15, 2008 in Australia and Europe and March 18, 2008 in the US.

Like their previous album Decomposer, A Band in Hope features multiple producers, though fewer this time around. According to frontman Shawn Harris' blog, the album was created in a period of despair due to the record sales of Decomposer. Instead of following up with the sister album titled The Mad Silentist, the band scrapped many of the old songs (only 4 remain in the final cut) and re-wrote the album. The new album, as Harris states, sways between hope and despair, and the hope one gets when they feel disillusioned and abandoned.

Collariella bostrychodes

Collariella bostrychodes is a fungal decomposer of lignin and carbohydrate in the family Chaetomiaceae commonly found in soil and dung. The fungus is distinguished by a darkened collar-like ostiole around the ostiolar pore, giving the fungus its name. The fungus is highly variable in shape and form, giving raise to the belief that there are two subclades in the species. The ascospores range from lemon-shaped to nearly spherical with slightly pointed ends. It can grow to be pale green and later turn pale bluish grey or olivaceous with age. The fungus produces the toxic secondary metabolite, chaetochromin.

Decomposer (album)

Decomposer is the second studio album by American pop punk band The Matches. It was released by Epitaph Records on September 11, 2006 worldwide, on September 12, 2006 in the United States, and in 2016 on vinyl. Audio production was handled by Matt Rad, Mike Green, Ryan Divine & Johnny Genius, Miles Hurwitz, Blink-182's Mark Hoppus, Goldfinger's John Feldmann, Rancid's Tim Armstrong, 311's Nick Hexum, and Bad Religion's Brett Gurewitz.

Decomposer also marks a vast departure from The Matches' previous strict alternative/punk sound and a growth into a more avant-garde and art rock sound. Additionally, many of the lyrical themes explored on Decomposer were resurrected for their next offering, 2008's A Band in Hope.

The album peaked at number 18 on the US Billboard Independent Albums.


Detritivores, also known as detrivores, detritophages, detritus feeders, or detritus eaters, are heterotrophs that obtain nutrients by consuming detritus (decomposing plant and animal parts as well as faeces). There are many kinds of invertebrates, vertebrates and plants that carry out coprophagy. By doing so, all these detritivores contribute to decomposition and the nutrient cycles. They should be distinguished from other decomposers, such as many species of bacteria, fungi and protists, which are unable to ingest discrete lumps of matter, but instead live by absorbing and metabolizing on a molecular scale (saprotrophic nutrition). However, the terms detritivore and decomposer are often used interchangeably.

Detritivores are an important aspect of many ecosystems. They can live on any type of soil with an organic component, including marine ecosystems, where they are termed interchangeably with bottom feeders.

Typical detritivorous animals include millipedes, springtails, woodlice, dung flies, slugs, many terrestrial worms, sea stars, sea cucumbers, fiddler crabs, and some sedentary polychaetes such as worms of the family Terebellidae).

Scavengers are not typically thought to be detritivores, as they generally eat large quantities of organic matter, but both detritivores and scavengers are the same type of cases of consumer-resource systems. The consumption of wood, whether alive or dead, is known as xylophagy. Τhe activity of animals feeding only on dead wood is called sapro-xylophagy and those animals, sapro-xylophagous. It is a good source of manure.

Fomes fomentarius

Fomes fomentarius (commonly known as the tinder fungus, false tinder fungus, hoof fungus, tinder conk, tinder polypore or ice man fungus) is a species of fungal plant pathogen found in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. The species produces very large polypore fruit bodies which are shaped like a horse's hoof and vary in colour from a silvery grey to almost black, though they are normally brown. It grows on the side of various species of tree, which it infects through broken bark, causing rot. The species typically continues to live on trees long after they have died, changing from a parasite to a decomposer.

Though inedible, F. fomentarius has traditionally seen use as the main ingredient of amadou, a material used primarily as tinder, but also used to make clothing and other items. The 5,000-year-old Ötzi the Iceman carried four pieces of F. fomentarius, concluded to be for use as tinder. It also has medicinal and other uses. The species is both a pest and useful in timber production.

Food chain

A food chain is a linear network of links in a food web starting from producer organisms (such as grass or trees which use radiation from the Sun to make their food) and ending at apex predator species (like grizzly bears or killer whales), detritivores (like earthworms or woodlice), or decomposer species (such as fungi or bacteria). A food chain also shows how the organisms are related with each other by the food they eat. Each level of a food chain represents a different trophic level. A food chain differs from a food web, because the complex network of different animals' feeding relations are aggregated and the chain only follows a direct, linear pathway of one animal at a time. Natural interconnections between food chains make it a food web.

A common metric used to the quantify food web trophic structure is food chain length. In its simplest form, the length of a chain is the number of links between a trophic consumer and the base of the web and the mean chain length of an entire web is the arithmetic average of the lengths of all chains in a food web.Many food webs have a keystone species (Such as Sharks) . A keystone species is a species that has a large impact on the surrounding environment and can directly affect the food chain. If this keystone species dies off it can set the entire food chain off balance. Keystone species keep herbivores from depleting all of the foliage in their environment and preventing a mass extinction.Food chains were first introduced by the Arab scientist and philosopher Al-Jahiz in the 10th century and later popularized in a book published in 1927 by Charles Elton, which also introduced the food web concept.

Guild (ecology)

A guild (or ecological guild) is any group of species that exploit the same resources, or that exploit different resources in related ways. It is not necessary that the species within a guild occupy the same, or even similar, ecological niches. An ecological niche is defined as the role an organism plays in its community, i.e. decomposer, primary producer, etc. Guilds are defined according to the locations, attributes, or activities of their component species. For example, the mode of acquiring nutrients, the mobility, and the habitat zones that the species occupy or exploit can be used to define a guild. The number of guilds occupying an ecosystem is termed its disparity. Members of a guild within a given ecosystem could be competing for resources, such as space or light, while cooperating in resisting wind stresses, attracting pollinators, or detecting predators, such as happens among savannah-dwelling antelope and zebra.

A guild does not typically have strict, or even clearly defined boundaries, nor does it need to be taxonomically cohesive. A broadly defined guild will almost always have constituent guilds; for example, grazing guilds will have some species that concentrate on coarse, plentiful forage, while others concentrate on low-growing, finer plants. Each of those two sub-guilds may be regarded as guilds in appropriate contexts, and they might, in turn, have sub-guilds in more closely selective contexts. Some authorities even speak of guilds in terms of a fractal resource model. This concept arises in several related contexts, such as the metabolic theory of ecology, the scaling pattern of occupancy, and spatial analysis in ecology, all of which are fundamental concepts in defining guilds.

An ecological guild is not to be confused with a taxocene, a group of phylogenetically related organisms in a community that do not necessarily share the same or similar niches (for example, "the insect community"). Nor is a guild the same as a trophic species, organisms of the same species that have mutual predators and prey.

Lead bismuthate

Lead bismuthate is a superconductor with the formula Pb(BiO3)2. has only been discovered in recent years in the laboratory as it is not naturally occurring. Lead bismuthate forms a pentavalent structure, significantly different from the regular ionic interactions of sodium bismuthate, but similar to that of strontium bismuthate. In the structure, six oxygen atoms are coordinated octahedrally to both the bismuth and lead atoms. The bismuth and oxygen atoms form negatively charged layers by creating repeating octahedral geometries. The positively charged lead atoms are then disbursed within the layers, forming a hexagonal unit cell, with a lead atom in each of the corners. The density of the crystal is 9.18 g/cm3. The formula weight is 233.99 g/mol. The volume of the crystal structure unit is 169.26 A3. Lattice parameters (a) is 5.321 angstroms.

Matt Rad

Matt Radosevich, also known as Matt Rad, is an American record producer, songwriter, and musician. He has worked with artists such as One Direction, Martin Garrix, Demi Lovato, Little Mix, Guy Sebastian, Lupe Fiasco, Walk the Moon, Thirty Seconds to Mars, The Hives, Boyz II Men, Chris Wallace, Pentatonix, and Dredg.

Mineralization (soil science)

Mineralization in soil science is the decomposition, i. e. oxidation, of the chemical compounds in organic matter, by which the nutrients in those compounds are released in soluble inorganic forms that may be available to plants.

Mineralization is the opposite of immobilization.

Mineralization increases the bioavailability of the nutrients that were in the decomposing organic compounds, most notably, because of their quantities, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulphur. Whether the decomposition of an organic compound will result in mineralization or immobilization is dependent on its concentration proportionate to that of the carbon in the organic matter. If the concentration of a specific element exceeds the needs of the decomposer for biosynthesis or storage then it will mineralize.

Mycena galopus

Mycena galopus, commonly known as the milking bonnet or the milk-drop mycena, is an inedible species of fungus in the family Mycenaceae of the order Agaricales. It produces small mushrooms that have grayish-brown, bell-shaped, radially-grooved caps up to 2.5 cm (1 in) wide. The gills are whitish to gray, widely spaced, and squarely attached to the stem. The slender stems are up to 8 cm (3 in) long, and pale gray at the top, becoming almost black at the hairy base. The stem will ooze a whitish latex if it is injured or broken. The variety nigra has a dark gray cap, while the variety candida is white. All varieties of the mushroom occur during summer and autumn on leaf litter in coniferous and deciduous woodland.

Mycena galopus is found in North America and Europe. The saprobic fungus is an important leaf litter decomposer, and able to utilize all the major constituents of plant litter. It is especially adept at attacking cellulose and lignin, the latter of which is the second most abundant renewable organic compound in the biosphere. The mushroom latex contains chemicals called benzoxepines, which are thought to play a role in a wound-activated chemical defense mechanism against yeasts and parasitic fungi.

Myrothecium verrucaria

Myrothecium verrucaria is a species of fungus in the order Hypocreales. A plant pathogen, it is common throughout the world, often found on materials such as paper, textiles, canvas and cotton. It is a highly potent cellulose decomposer.

It has been formulated into a biopesticide for control of nematodes and weeds. The pesticide's active ingredient is a mixture of the killed fungus, M. verrucaria, and the liquid in which the fungus was grown. The dead fungus kills specific parasitic microscopic pests called nematodes, which attack plants, usually through their roots. The active ingredient is specific, being effective only against nematodes that parasitize plants; it does not harm free-living nematodes. Because the mixture may be toxic to aquatic organisms, it is not approved for use in or near bodies of water. No harmful effects to humans are expected as long as applicators protect their eyes and skin from contact with pesticide products that contain this active ingredient.

Since 1998, the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has experimented with using M. verrucaria as a biologically-based herbicide against kudzu vines. A spray based on M. verrucaria works under a variety of conditions (including the absence of dew), causes minimal injury to many of the other woody plants in kudzu-infested habitats, and takes effect fast enough that kudzu treated with it in the morning starts showing evidence of damage by mid-afternoon. Initial formulations of the herbicide produced toxic levels of trichothecene as a byproduct, though the ARS discovered that growing M. verrucaria in a fermenter on a liquid instead of a solid diet limited or eliminated the problem.

Parasola plicatilis

Parasola plicatilis is a small saprotrophic mushroom with a plicate cap (diameter up to 35 mm). It is a widely distributed species in Europe and North America. This ink cap species is a decomposer which can be found in grassy areas, alone, scattered or in small groups. The fruiting bodies grow at night after rain, and will self decompose after spore dispersion is achieved. Otherwise, they are quickly dried up in morning sunlight, or will eventually collapse beneath the weight of their caps.

Pycnoporus cinnabarinus

Pycnoporus cinnabarinus, also known as the cinnabar polypore, is a saprophytic, white-rot decomposer. Its fruit body is a bright orange shelf fungus. It is common in many areas and is widely distributed throughout the world.

The stipe and the pore surface had a positive reaction with potassium hydroxide.

Pycnoporus coccineus

Pycnoporus coccineus is a saprophytic, white-rot decomposer fungus in the family Polyporaceae. A widely distributed species, the fungus was first described scientifically by Elias Magnus Fries in 1851.


Saprobionts are organisms that digest their food externally and then absorb the products. Fungi are examples of saprobiontic organisms also known as decomposers.

Saprobiontic organisms feed off dead and or decaying matter, to digest this they excrete digestive enzymes which breaks down the cell tissues allowing the organism to extract the nutrients it needs to survive while leaving the indigestible waste. This is called extracellular digestion. This is very important in ecosystems, for the nutrient cycle.

They are a form of decomposer, but not to be confused with detritivores, which digest internally.

These organisms can be a good source of extra-cellular enzymes for industrial processes such as the production of fruit juice. For instance, the fungus Aspergillus niger is used to produce pectinase. An enzyme which is used to break down pectin in the concentrate to make the juice appear more translucent.


Saprophages are organisms that obtain nutrients by consuming decomposing dead plant or animal biomass. They are distinguished from detritivores in that saprophages are sessile consumers while detritivore are mobile. Typical saprophagic animals include sedentary polychaetes such as amphitrites (Amphitritinae, worms of the family Terebellidae) and other terebellids.

The eating of wood, whether live or dead, is known as xylophagy. Τhe activity of animals feeding only on dead wood is called sapro-xylophagy and those animals, sapro-xylophagous.

The Matches

The Matches are an American pop punk band formed in 1997 in Oakland, California, United States. The band is composed of vocalist and rhythm guitarist Shawn Harris, lead guitarist and backup vocalist Jonathan Devoto, bassist Justin San Souci, and drummer Matt Whalen. The Matches have released three studio albums and are currently unsigned after their contract with Epitaph Records expired.

On July 9, 2009, the Matches announced on their MySpace and Facebook pages that they were taking a "hiatus", saying that, "our time to start new projects has come". On June 17, 2010 Shawn confirmed to Triple J that he had left the band. The Matches announced a one-time reunion show with the original lineup in May 2014. The show sold out, as did an additional eight shows and a following tour in Australia. The band announced additional reunion dates and new songs in 2015.

Trametes pubescens

Trametes pubescens is a small, thin polypore, or bracket fungus. It has a cream-colored, finely velvety cap surface. Unlike most other turkey tail-like species of Trametes, the cap surface lacks strongly contrasting zones of color.

It is an annual, saprobic fungus, a decomposer of the deadwood of hardwoods, growing in clusters on logs, stumps and downed branches. (It is rarely reported on conifer wood.)

Trametes pubescens is a purported plant pathogen, infecting peach and nectarine trees.

Food webs
Example webs
Ecology: Modelling ecosystems: Other components


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