Nutrition in Plants: Autotrophic nutrition and Heterotrophic nutrition

This article aims to delve into nutrition in plants from the perspective of the SSC

CGL/CHSL and Banking examinations.

 Components such as carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, etc. are necessary for the survival of living organisms. Plants produce their own
foods and are known as primary producers. Living organisms such as
humans depend on primary producers for their nutrition and are hence
called consumers.

Nutrition refers to the process of obtaining food and utilizing it to grow,
remain healthy, and repair the body.

There are 2 modes of nutrition:

a) Autotrophic nutrition: Autotrophic nutrition means self nutrition. It is a
process in which an organism produces its food using simple organic
compounds such as water, carbon dioxide, and minerals in the presence of
sunlight. All green plants depend on autotrophic nutrition for survival.

 Photosynthesis: the process through which green plants produce their
own food is called photosynthesis.

 In this process, water and minerals are absorbed from the soil by the roots of the plant and transported to the leaves through the xylem vessels which run throughout the plant.

Carbon dioxide reaches the leaves through the small pores present on it
called stomata which are opened and closed by the guard cells which
surround them and is responsible for the exchange of gases.

Chlorophyll is the main catalyst in the process of photosynthesis. It is the green pigment present in the leaves of plants which helps them capture
the energy from the sunlight and convert solar energy into chemical energy
to prepare their food.

 The product of photosynthesis is oxygen and a simple for of carbohydrate that is consumed by the plants.

 Hence, the process of photosynthesis is essential for all organisms since
humans depend on the oxygen and the carbohydrates produced by the

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 The equation for the process of photosynthesis is :
Carbon dioxide (Co2) + water (h20) + sunlight ———-> glucose (C6h12O6) + oxygen (6O2)

 The chloroplast in the leaves is the location for photosynthesis.

 plants convert the glucose into a complex form of carbohydrate called
starch which is then stored in the different parts of the plant.

 Plants make starch, oil, vitamins, fat and proteins as foods.

b) Heterotrophic nutrition: It is the mode of nutrition in which organisms
depend on other organisms which produce their own food for their
nutrition. All animals and non-green plants depend on other organisms for
their survival.

 Some plants don’t possess the green pigment-chlorophyll and depend on other organisms for their nutrition. Heterotrophic nutrition in plants is of the following types:

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1) Parasitic Nutrition: Some plants called parasites depend on other plants for survival and grow around them to directly extract nutrition from their host plant. The host does not benefit from this relation.

E.g. cuscata

2) Insectivorous plants: some plants are specially equipped to help them trap insects on which they depend for their nutrition.

E.g. Venus flytrap, pitcher plant

3) Saprophytic plants: some plants depend on dead and decaying organisms to get their nutrition . They are known as Saprophytes.

E.g. mushrooms, mould

Many of these plants are used widely in our day to day lives-

Penicillin fungus is used to make the penicillin antibiotic

Yeast is a common household product used in breads and is also used in
the fermentation of alcohol

Mushrooms are also used as a common vegetable consumed across the

4) Symbiotic nutrition: when 2 different plants belonging to different categories are dependent on each other for survival, they are termed to be symbiotic.

E.g. Fungi and trees

 The symbiotic relation of algae and fungi is called lichens which is an
indicator of air pollution.

Rhizobium is an organism which can covert the nitrogen present in the
atmosphere in a soluble form for plants to consume in exchange for

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