Our nutrition worksheets will look at how organisms take in food and the unique ability of fungi to make the most of their environment. Students will then look at maintaining a healthy diet in their own lives. The worksheets will help students understand the differences between autotrophic and heterotrophic forms of nutrition and the advantages and disadvantages of each type. We will inspect food labels and the advantages to a well-balanced diet. We spend a good bit of time here focused on Fungi. Let's face it fungi and decomposer nutrition, in general, is very interesting.
Learn how to read the government required nutrition labels on food. We show you how to make sense of them.
Answer these True or False questions to see what you know about sugar in your food. There are some really interesting facts here about sugar.
Plant-based foods contain substances called phytonutrients. These chemical compounds help plants to thrive, as well as to overcome competitors, predators, or pathogens.
Can you get these nutrients in a supplement? Scientists believe that the phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber, etc. in fruits and vegetables work together to lower cancer risk, rather than risk being affected by any isolated nutrient.
See if you can spot the healthy foods. Circle all of the foods that you feel are healthy for you.
Autotrophs are organisms that are capable of directly using inorganic compounds in their environment to form organic compounds. Heterotrophs consume and process food which results in waste products.
Provide the labels for the indicated structures on the diagram of a mushroom. You will do the same thing for a yeast cell and bread mold.
Different Types of Nutrition in Living Organisms
All living things need to constant find a source of energy to keep on going. How they get this energy into their system is referred to as nutrition. Some organisms only eat plants, like cattle. They are called herbivores. Some only eat meat like sharks. They are called Carnivores. You also have humans that do both and we are referred to as Omnivores. You also have other organisms that live off of dead or decaying materials called decomposers. How organisms take in food is usually slightly indicative of where the are within the food chain of their ecosystem. Carnivores will feed on all three other types, including other carnivores. Carnivores depend on there being enough available food sources for their survival. Omnivores have a distinct lead over carnivores, because they can eat a wide variety of other organisms. Herbivores are inherently food at the bottom of the food chain as they mind their own business making their own food.
All living organisms need energy sources to perform daily functions. However, there are different types of nutrition that plants and animals use for those energy sources. Plants and certain strains of bacteria rely on chlorophyll to perform photosynthesis, but animals, bacteria, and fungi use other organisms for food.
There are two different types of nutrition in living organisms: autotrophic and heterotrophic. Autotrophic nutrition is when an organism synthesizes energy, and heterotrophic nutrition is when an organism eats another for energy. In general, plants use autotrophic, while animals use heterotrophic.
I'll discuss the two types of nutrition in detail below, including their differences and what living organisms use them.
What Are the Main Types of Nutrition in Organisms?
There are two main modes of nutrition that living organisms can use: autotrophic and heterotrophic. These two types can break down into more categories, making them more specific to the organism.
First, I'll discuss autotrophic nutrition. This mode allows a living organism to make its food through photosynthesis, so scientists call them producers.
During this photosynthesis, green chlorophyll absorbs sunlight, which reacts with carbon dioxide and water to create energy for the organism. The organism also releases oxygen as a by-product.
Most organisms that use this mode of nutrition are plants, although they can also include:
- Chlorophyll-carrying bacteria
- Chlorophyll-carrying protists
Producers might also use chemosynthesis instead of photosynthesis. These organisms still create their own energy but use specific chemicals instead of sunlight, including some bacteria and archaea.
Next, heterotrophic nutrition is the type of nutrition organisms use when they can't produce energy independently. This group, also called consumers, includes all animals, some bacteria, and fungi, which consume other organisms, then break them down into simple molecules.
There are three main groups of consumers as well:
- Herbivores: Organisms that consume plant life only.
- Carnivores: Organisms that consume other organisms only.
- Omnivores: Organisms that consume both plants and other animals.
Depending on how the heterotroph eats, it would fall into one of these three nutrition categories:
- Holozoic: Organisms that consume food and digest it using enzymes in their bodies. (Humans fall into this category.)
- Saprophytic: Organisms that absorb energy from decaying organisms, such as fungi.
- Parasitic: Organisms that obtain food from a host they live on or in.
It's worth mentioning that there's a third category of nutrition for the organisms that use a combination of both. They consume other organisms to absorb carbon while using sunlight to synthesize energy.
A great example of a mixotroph would be the single-celled Euglena, a protist with traits of both plants and animals. Another example many are familiar with would be the venus fly trap. This plant gets some of its energy from digesting insects.
Why Nutrition Is Important
These different modes of nutrition allow organisms to absorb or create energy, which provides for various functions. For example, the energy an organism gets from food enables them to move, produce body heat, and more. Everything an organism does requires energy, even if it gets it differently.
Understanding the modes of nutrition can also help to categorize organisms. For instance, the biological kingdoms use varying consumption methods; Kingdom Animalia uses heterotrophic holozoic nutrition, while Kingdom Fungi uses heterotrophic saprophytic nutrition.
So, while both these Kingdoms are heterotrophic, we can classify them further using our understanding of nutrition in living organisms.
To summarize, there are two main types of nutrition in living organisms— autotrophic and heterotrophic. When a plant uses photosynthesis for energy, it's autotrophic. But when we eat dinner, we use a heterotrophic method to gain energy.
How Do Plants and Animals Depend on Each Other?
Many animals are classified as herbivores or omnivores, meaning they eat either plants or both plants and animals to survive. However, if plant consumption weren’t a two-way street, animals would have cleared the planet of edible vegetation a long time ago. So, how do plants and animals depend on each other for survival?
Animals and plants depend on each other through the food chain, which describes the growth and consumption process of all living organisms on Earth. As such, plants and animals rely on each other for survival. While some animals eat plants, animals may disperse the plant's seeds.
There are other ways that plants and animals depend on each other, too. This article will look at how else these organisms work together to ensure survival and will offer some examples of animals and plants that engage in symbiosis as a mutually beneficial practice.
Are Animals and Plants Part of a Symbiotic Relationship?
Animals and plants are part of a symbiotic relationship, where two species or organisms interact with each other for beneficial purposes. Animals use plants as food, but they also spread plants’ seeds as they eat, ensuring that new plants can thrive.
Essentially, herbivores and omnivores consume different plants as their primary food source. In turn, the seeds of these plants show up in the animal’s excrement. Eventually, these seeds will become new baby plants. This process is called propagation, which benefits plants and animals.
Propagation is particularly useful when the animal digests and drops berry seeds, which grow into more plants that produce food. Therefore, the plant is feeding the animal, and the animal propagates the plant’s seeds.
Do Animals Help Plants Grow?
Animals help plants grow by fertilizing and pollinating them. Animals disperse seeds through their waste. The nutrients and healthy bacteria found in animal excrement can act as an excellent fertilizer, providing the appropriate environment for plants to regrow in different locations.
This means of fertilization through animal feces is why farms have such a strong smell - gardeners and farmers often use manure as fertilizer in their fields!
Animals can also transport pollen by picking it up. It may stick to an animal’s fur or be moved by a bird’s beak directly to a stigma, which begins the process of plant reproduction. This type of transportation is called pollination and is an essential part of the symbiotic relationship between plants and animals.
How Do Animals Depend on Plants?
Animals depend on plants by using them as a source of food, shelter, and cover. Plants protect animals from predators, harsh weather, and starvation, ensuring that both the plants and animals continue to thrive.
In return, plants offer lots of resources to animals. Aside from food, animals can use plants for shelter from poor weather and create habitats. For example, birds use branches and leaves to make nests, and black bears can be found hibernating under thick shrubbery.
Additionally, animals can use plants, grass, and forested areas to hide from predators. Tigers and other cats use their striped or spotted markings to camouflage themselves in tall grass while they hunt, and many insects, like the praying mantis, blend incredibly well in greenery. The mantis can often be mistaken for a twig!
In conclusion, animals depend on plants for oxygen, shelter, and food, while plants depend on animals to transport and disperse seeds and pollen.
They engage in a mutually beneficial relationship called a symbiotic relationship. Because plants are at the bottom of the food chain, all living creatures depend on them, whether to camouflage, hibernate, or build a home.