An organotroph is an organism that obtains hydrogen or electrons from organic substrates. This term is used in microbiology to classify and describe organisms based on how they obtain electrons for their respiration processes. Some organotrophs such as animals and many bacteria, are also heterotrophs. Organotrophs can be either anaerobic or aerobic.

Antonym: Lithotroph, Adjective: Organotrophic.


The term was suggested in 1946 by Lwoff and collaborators.[1]

See also

External links


  1. ^ Lwoff, A., C.B. van Niel, P.J. Ryan, and E.L. Tatum (1946). Nomenclature of nutritional types of microorganisms. Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology (5th edn.), Vol. XI, The Biological Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, pp. 302–303, [1].
  • Michael Allaby. "organotroph." A Dictionary of Zoology. 1999, Retrieved 2012-03-30 from
  • The Prokaryotes - A Handbook on the Biology of Bacteria 3rd Ed., Vol 1, CHAPTER 1.4, Prokaryote Characterization and Identification 7, Retrieved from
  • Respiration in aquatic ecosystems Paul A. Del Giorgio, Peter J. leB. Williams, Science, 2005, Retrieved 2012-04-24 from
  • Holmes, Andrew J.; Tujula, Niina A.; Holley, Marita; Contos, Annalisa; James, Julia M.; Rogers, Peter; Gillings, Michael R. (April 2001). "Phylogenetic structure of unusual aquatic microbial formations in Nullarbor caves, Australia". Environmental Microbiology. 3 (4): 256–264. doi:10.1046/j.1462-2920.2001.00187.x.
  • Jones, J. Gwynfryn; Davison, William; Gardener, Steven (1984). "Iron reduction by bacteria: range of organisms involved and metals reduced". FEMS Microbiology Letters. 21: 133–136. doi:10.1111/j.1574-6968.1984.tb00198.x.

Acidobacteria is a phylum of bacteria. Its members are physiologically diverse and ubiquitous, especially in soils, but are under-represented in culture.


An autotroph or primary producer, is an organism that produces complex organic compounds (such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) from simple substances present in its surroundings, generally using energy from light (photosynthesis) or inorganic chemical reactions (chemosynthesis). They are the producers in a food chain, such as plants on land or algae in water (in contrast to heterotrophs as consumers of autotrophs). They do not need a living source of energy or organic carbon. Autotrophs can reduce carbon dioxide to make organic compounds for biosynthesis and also create a store of chemical energy. Most autotrophs use water as the reducing agent, but some can use other hydrogen compounds such as hydrogen sulfide. Some autotrophs, such as green plants and algae, are phototrophs, meaning that they convert electromagnetic energy from sunlight into chemical energy in the form of reduced carbon.

Autotrophs can be photoautotrophs or chemoautotrophs. Phototrophs use light as an energy source, while chemotrophs use electron donors as a source of energy, whether from organic or inorganic sources; however in the case of autotrophs, these electron donors come from inorganic chemical sources. Such chemotrophs are lithotrophs. Lithotrophs use inorganic compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide, elemental sulfur, ammonium and ferrous iron, as reducing agents for biosynthesis and chemical energy storage. Photoautotrophs and lithoautotrophs use a portion of the ATP produced during photosynthesis or the oxidation of inorganic compounds to reduce NADP+ to NADPH to form organic compounds.

Bryocella elongata

Bryocella elongata is a bacterium, a type species of genus Bryocella. Cells are Gram-negative, non-motile pink-pigmented rods that multiply by normal cell division and form rosettes. The type strain is SN10(T). B. elongata was first isolated in 2011 from a methanotropic enrichment culture.


Fervidicoccus fontis is a species of anaerobic organotroph archaeum belonging to the kingdom Crenarchaeota. It is thermophilic and slightly acidophilic, being found at the Uzon Caldera at temperatures between 75 °C and 80 °C. Cells are single cocci of 1–3 μm in diameter with no archaella.

Halostagnicola larsenii

Halostagnicola larsenii is a non-motile, aerobic, gram-negative, rod shaped archaeon. It is a halophilic, neutrophilic, chemo-organotroph and was isolated from samples taken from a saline lake in China. The etymology of the name comes from Halos Greek for salt, stagnum Latin for standing water, cola Latin for inhabitant or dweller, and Larsenii named after the Norwegian microbiologist, Helge Larsen, who was a pioneer in research regarding halophiles.

Haloterrigena turkmenica

Haloterrigena turkmenica is an aerobic chemo organotrophic archeon originally found in Turkish salt lakes.

List of Greek and Latin roots in English/P–Z

The following is an alphabetical list of Greek and Latin roots, stems, and prefixes commonly used in the English language from P to Z. See also the lists from A to G and from H to O.

Some of those used in medicine and medical technology are not listed here but instead in the entry for List of medical roots, suffixes and prefixes.


Lithotrophs are a diverse group of organisms using inorganic substrate (usually of mineral origin) to obtain reducing equivalents for use in biosynthesis (e.g., carbon dioxide fixation) or energy conservation (i.e., ATP production) via aerobic or anaerobic respiration. Known chemolithotrophs are exclusively microorganisms; no known macrofauna possesses the ability to use inorganic compounds as energy sources. Macrofauna and lithotrophs can form symbiotic relationships, in which case the lithotrophs are called "prokaryotic symbionts". An example of this is chemolithotrophic bacteria in giant tube worms or plastids, which are organelles within plant cells that may have evolved from photolithotrophic cyanobacteria-like organisms. Lithotrophs belong to either the domain Bacteria or the domain Archaea. The term "lithotroph" was created from the Greek terms 'lithos' (rock) and 'troph' (consumer), meaning "eaters of rock". Many but not all lithoautotrophs are extremophiles.

Different from a lithotroph is an organotroph, an organism which obtains its reducing agents from the catabolism of organic compounds.

Thermococcus litoralis

Thermococcus litoralis (T. litoralis) is a species of Archaea that is found around deep-sea hydrothermal vents as well as shallow submarine thermal springs and oil wells. It is an anaerobic organotroph hyperthermophile that is between 0.5–3.0 µm in diameter. Like the other species in the order thermococcales, T. litoralis is an irregular hyperthermophile coccus that grows between 55–100 °C. Unlike many other thermococci, T. litoralis is non-motile. Its cell wall consists only of a single S-layer that does not form hexagonal lattices. Additionally, while many thermococcales obligately use sulfur as an electron acceptor in metabolism, T. litoralis only needs sulfur to help stimulate growth, and can live without it. T. litoralis has recently been popularized by the scientific community for its ability to produce an alternative DNA polymerase to the commonly used Taq polymerase. The T. litoralis polymerase, dubbed the vent polymerase, has been shown to have a lower error rate than Taq but due to its proofreading 3’-5’ exonuclease abilities.

Food webs
Example webs
Ecology: Modelling ecosystems: Other components


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