Autotrophic or eterotrophic bacteria

Depending on the way they take the two essential resources for their survival, energy and carbon (which they need for synthesising organic substances), bacteria can be classed as autotrophic or heterotrophic. Autotrophic prokaryotes can synthesise organic molecules from inorganic molecules, such as carbon dioxide. The energy needed for the synthesis can be supplied by light or other chemicals. The bacteria that, like plants, use solar energy are called photoautotrophic, while those that take energy from chemical reactions are called chemoautotrophic. Bacteria that need to feed on already synthesised organic molecules, as all animals do, are called heterotrophic. These bacteria can feed on virtually anything.

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From the Multimedia section

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    Bio-luminescence

    Many sea animals, including a lot of fish and molluscs that live in the dark in the ocean depths...

    High-fashion bacteria

    Some bacteria, the Clostridia, were used to make textile fibres...

  • Bacteria as detergents

    Enzymes are proteins produced by the cells of all living organisms...

    Bacteria as miners

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  • Bacteria as Sherlock Holmes

    A drop of blood, a fragment of skin or a hair found on the scene of a crime can supply…

    Down-pouring bacteria

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  • Bio-luminescence

    Many sea animals, including a lot of fish and molluscs that live in the dark in the ocean depths...

  • High-fashion bacteria

    Some bacteria, the Clostridia, were used to make textile fibres...

  • Bacteria as detergents

    Enzymes are proteins produced by the cells of all living organisms...