Types of Heterotrophic Bacteria

By Thomas James ; Updated April 25, 2017
Heterotrophics take in sugars from their environment, rather than manufacturing sugar themselves.

Heterotrophic bacteria are a type of bacteria that take the sugars they need to survive and reproduce from their environment, rather than making the sugars themselves from carbon and hydrogen. Bacteria that do produce their own sugars from carbon and hydrogen are called autotrophic. There are many different subtypes of heterotrophic bacteria.

Photoheterotrophs

Photoheterotrophs acquire energy from sunlight.

Photoheterotroph is the term used to describe bacteria that acquire energy from sunlight but require organic compounds like sugars from their environment to survive. Examples of photoheterotroph bacteria include heliobacteria, green non-sulfur bacteria and purple non-sulfur bacteria.

Chemoheterotrophs

Chemoheterotrophs can acquire energy from thermal vents.

Chemoheterotroph is the term used to describe bacteria that acquire energy from chemical reactions. Like all heterotrophs they require organic compounds to survive and cannot manufacture their own. Chemoheterotrophs are often found around thermal vents in the deep ocean.

Organotrophs

Hetero-organotrophs are involved in the composting process.

Organotroph is the term used to describe bacteria that acquire their energy from an organic substrate. Examples of hetero-organotrophs include the bacteria involved in composting.

Lithotrophs

Lithotrophs acquire energy from inorganic chemicals like iron.

Lithotroph is the term used to describe bacteria that acquire their energy from an inorganic substrate. Heterolithotrophic bacteria are very rare.

About the Author

Thomas James has been writing professionally since 2008. His work has appeared on the science-fiction blog Futurismic. He writes about technology, economics, management, science fiction, politics and philosophy. James graduated from Trinity Catholic School and holds A-levels in physics, maths, chemistry and an AS-level in English language.