• Written By Insha_S
  • Last Modified 30-06-2022

Nutrition: Different Types of Nutrition in Plants and Animals


The process of taking in food and converting it into energy and other vital nutrients is known as nutrition. In addition to repairing damaged parts and organs, nutrition provides energy for a variety of functions.

Nutrients are required for the optimal functioning and development of all living creatures. However, they differ in how they meet this demand. Some animals consume simple inorganic molecules to satisfy their dietary needs, whereas others consume complex compounds. The way a species eats differs from one species to the next.

Different Types of Nutrition

The following are the two types of nutrition among living organisms, namely:

  • Autotrophic mode
  • Heterotrophic mode

Autotrophic Mode

In the autotrophic mode, organisms consume simple inorganic matters like water and carbon dioxide in the presence of light and chlorophyll to synthesize food on their own. Such organisms are called autotrophs.

Some examples of Autotrophs are plants, algae, and bacteria (cyanobacteria).

Heterotrophic Mode

No organism can prepare food on its own. Such organisms are dependent on others for nutrition. Heterotrophs are organisms that cannot produce nutrition independently and must rely on other sources/organisms. Heterotrophs include fungi and all animals, including humans. Depending on their habitat and adaptations, heterotrophs come in a vast range of shapes and sizes. Some eat plants (herbivores), while others eat animals (carnivores), and only a few eat both (omnivores).

The following heterotrophs are classified in different categories based on their mode of nutrition:

  • Saprophytes (e.g. mushrooms)
  • Parasites (e.g. leeches)
  • Holozoic (e.g. humans)

Nutrition in Plants

Plants are primary producers that have autotrophic nutrition. They use light, carbon dioxide, and water to synthesize their food.

Autotrophic Nutrition in Plants

Autotrophic nutrition is when an organism prepares its food with Photosynthesis. The following are the steps involved in Photosynthesis:

  • The process of absorbing energy from the sun.
  • Light energy is converted into chemical energy.
  • Water is hydrolyzed into oxygen and hydrogen.
  • Chemical energy is used to convert carbon dioxide to glucose.

Conditions Required for Photosynthesis

  • Sunlight
  • Water
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Chlorophyll

Heterotrophic Nutrition in Plants

Certain plants lack chlorophyll, so they must rely on other plants for nourishment, a process known as heterotrophic feeding.

Heterotrophic Plants

The following are the different types of heterotrophic plants that are mainly classified based on their nutrition mode:

  • Parasitic
  • Insectivorous
  • Saprophytic
  • Symbiotic

Parasitic Nutrition

Some heterotrophic plants rely on other plants and animals for nutrition. Parasitic plants are those that feed on other plants. The parasite, on the other hand, does not help the host.

For example, Cassytha and Cuscuta.

Insectivorous Nutrition

Carnivorous or heterotrophic plants have particular structural traits that enable them to capture insects. By secreting digestive secretions, these plants digest the insects and obtain their nutrition. These plants thrive on mineral-deficient soil.

For example, Venus flytrap and Pitcher plant.

Saprophytic Nutrition

Saprophytic plants eat dead and decaying plants and animals for nourishment. They digest the dead and decaying matter, and absorb the nutrients via secreting digestive fluids.

For example, molds and mushrooms,

Symbiotic Nutrition

Symbiotic is a term used to describe a close relationship between two plants from different groups. Both plants benefit from each other in this manner.

For example, the association of fungi and trees.

Nutrition in Animals

Animal nutrition is determined by their eating patterns. Ingestion is the process of ingesting food. Different animals consume food in different ways. Animals can be divided into the below-mentioned groups based on their food habits:

Herbivores: Herbivores are animals that get their sustenance from plants and fruits. Cows, goats, sheep, buffaloes, and other livestock are examples of Herbivores.

Carnivores: Carnivores are the animals that feed on other animals. Lions, tigers, and wolves are some examples of carnivores.

Omnivores: Organisms that consume both plants and animals fall under the Omnivorous category. Humans, bears, dogs, and crows are some examples of Omnivores.

Different Types of Nutrition

The following are the different types of nutrition in animals:

  • Filter Feeding: The process of getting nutrients from particles suspended in water using a filter, commonly used by fishes.
  • Deposit feeding: The process of collecting nutrients from suspended particles in the soil. This process helps earthworms consume their food.
  • Fluid feeding: The process of getting nutrients by ingesting the fluids of other species. This style of food consumption is seen in honey bees and mosquitos.
  • Bulk feeding: The process of acquiring nutrients by consuming the entire organism. Python is a good example.
  • Ram and suction feeding involve swallowing prey through bodily fluids. Aquatic predators, such as bony fish, use this digestion method.

Nutrition Process in Animals

The following steps involve the process of nutrition in animals:

Ingestion: The process of taking in food is known as Ingestion.

Digestion: The bigger meal particles are broken down into smaller, water-soluble bits during the digestive process. Food digestion can be physical or chemical.

Absorption: The process of absorption of digested food in the bloodstream through the intestinal wall is known as absorption.

Assimilation: Food is absorbed and utilised by the body’s cells for energy, development, and repair. This process is known as assimilation.

Egestion: Food that has not been digested is excreted from the body in the faeces. This process is known as Egestion.

We hope the above article helped you clear your doubts on Nutrition.

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