What Is Saprophytes In Animals?


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A saprophyte is an organism that obtains its nutrition from dead organic matter. Most saprophytes are microorganisms like fungi and bacteria that help the process of decomposition.

When a tree or a goat (or any other living thing) dies, it has a lot of energy and nutrients locked up inside it. These have to be returned to the system so that more organisms can take it up and live and grow (remember that energy can neither be created nor destroyed?). So, saprophytic organisms help to bring about nutrient turn over. In this way, the nutrients are returned to the ecosystem and are made available to be taken up by others.

Mostly, the saprophytes are microscopic, however, sometimes scavenging animals are also considered to be 'saprotrophic'. The criterion is the same that they feed on detrital matter. Dung beetle and vultures are examples of saprotrophs.

A little bit extra that might help you: Animals are called 'saprotrophic', not 'saprophytic' because 'phyte' means plants. In fact, the term 'saprophyte' is being replaced by saprotrophs or saprobes because now, fungi and bacteria are not considered to be plants either.

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