Chapter 6



|Prepared By: Mr. Tan Wai Shan

Chapter 6: Nutrition
 Nutrition is the entire process by which organisms obtain nutrients with essential materials and organic molecules from their environment which are required to carry out metabolic activities.  There are two main types of nutrition. They are autotrophic nutrition and heterotrophic nutrition.

6.1 AUTOTROPHIC NUTRITION  In autotrophic nutrition, organic compounds are synthesized or manufactured from raw inorganic materials by the organisms (autotrophs).  The examples of autotrophs include all plants and some bacteria. Basically, autotrophic nutrition can be classified into chemosynthesis and photosynthesis. Photosynthesis  Photosynthesis is the anabolic process of synthesizing organic compounds from inorganic raw materials such as carbon dioxide and water by using sunlight as the source of energy in the presence of chlorophyll.  The organisms that carry out photosynthesis are known as photoautotrophs. All green plants, algae and cyanobacteria carry out photosynthesis by using water as a source of hydrogen in photosynthesis and eventually oxygen is released. CO2 + H2O  (CH2O)n + O2  The example of cyanobacteria is Nostoc sp. Red algae and cyanobacteria have a different type of photosystem complex, called phycobilisome, which contains phycobilins rather than chlorophyll and carotenoids. Two common examples of phycobilins are phycoerythrin and phycocyanin.  Phycoerythrin absorbs photons from the blue, green and yellow regions of the spectrum and thus appearing red. It enables red algae to utilize the dim light that penetrates an ocean’s surface water.  Phycocyanin absorbs photons from the orange region of the spectrum and thus appearing blue. It is the characteristic of cyanobacteria living close to the surface of a lake or on land.  The green sulphur bacteria, e.g. chlorobium sp. and purple sulphur bacteria, e.g. chromatium sp. are anaerobic photosynthetic bacteria. Green sulphur bacteria have a green pigment which is known as bacteriochlorophyll that is the primary pigment dissolved in cytoplasm. While purple sulphur bacteria containing red and brown carotenoids mixed with bacteriochlorophyll to trap sunlight.  These organisms synthesize organic compounds from hydrogen sulphide and water, utilising sunlight trapped by the pigment bacteriochlorophyll CO2 + 2H2S  (CH2O)n + H2O + 2S
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 Photosynthethic bacteria have chromatophores which are round, simple and membranous vesicles. It is single membrane bound plastids which has bacteriochlorophyll pigments and photosynthethic enzymes within.  Purple non-sulphur bacteria, e.g. rhodospirillum sp. are more or less the same as purple sulphur bacteria. Just the only thing is, purple non-sulphur bacteria is photoheterotroph that can make use of carbon containing or organic compounds such as alcohols or carbohydrates as donors of hydrogen to reduce carbon dioxide. Chemosynthesis  Chemosynthesis is the anabolic process of synthesizing organic compounds from inorganic raw materials such as carbon dioxide and water by using energy supplied by chemical processes, which involve the oxidation of inorganic substances such as hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, nitrite and iron.  The organisms that carry out photosynthesis are known as chemoautotrophs. Some examples of chemosynthethic organisms include several bacteria such as:  Nitrifying bacteria  Nitrosomonas sp., obtain their energy from the oxidation of ammonia which are from the decomposing plants and animals in soil to nitrites. 2NH3 + 3O2  2HNO2 + 2H2O + Energy  Nitrobacter sp., oxidizes nitrites to nitrates. 2HNO2 + O2  2HNO3 + Energy  These reactions are essential steps in the recycling of nitrogen.  Iron bacteria  Leptothrix sp. make use of the energy liberated during the oxidative reactions of ferrous(II) salts to ferric(III) salts to fix carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrate. 4FeCO3 + O2 + 6H2O  4Fe(OH)3 + 4CO2 + Energy  Colourless sulphur bacteria  Thiobacillus sp. makes use of energy liberated during oxidative reaction of sulphur to sulphuric acid. This reaction occurs in the presence of oxygen or nitrate. 2S + 3O2 + H2O  2H2SO4 + Energy

6.2 HETEROTROPHIC NUTRITION  In heterotrophic nutrition, the organisms (heterotrophs) are unable to synthesize organic compounds. They obtain the organic sources by directly taking in food as a source of energy and as a synthesizer for their own organic components.  Animals, fungi, many bacteria and some protoctists are heterotrophs.


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 Basically, there are three type of heterotrophic nutrititon. They are holozoic nutrition, saprophytic nutrition and symbiotic nutrition. Holozoic Nutrition  In holozoic nutrition, the organisms ingest solid food particles and digest them in the alimentary canal before absorbing them into the cell through a blood transport system.  These organisms include most animals, insectivorous plants and some protoctists.  In mammals, holozoic nutrition usually involves five main processes which are ingestion, digestion, absorption, assimilation and egestion.  Holozoic nutrition can be divided into several groups, namely  Herbivores that eat plants. Examples include goats, cows and rabbits.  Frugivores that are the fruit eaters. Examples include monkeys, birds and bats.  Carnivores that eat animals. Examples include tigers, lions, dogs and snakes.  Omnivores that eat both plants and animals. Examples include humans.  Detritivores that feed on dead and decaying organic matter which also known as detritus and digesting it internally. Examples include earthworms and woodlice.  Sanguinivores that feed on the blood of the vertebrates. Examples include mosquito, leeches and vampires bat.  Insectivores or carnivorous plants that feed on small insects. They are able to carry out photosynthesis. They also have specialized leaves to trap insects and digest them. Extracellular digestion occurs and the soluble products like amino acids are absorbed and assimilated. These kinds of plants are able to grow in soils low in nitrates as they are able to obtain nitrogen ions through the insects that they digested. Examples include pitcher plant (Nepenthes sp.), sundews (Drosera sp.) and Venus fly traps (Dionaea muscipula sp.).  Holozoic organisms also can be classified according to the type and size of food ingested. There are four main groups.  Microphagous feeders take in food in very small particles. Examples include unicellular organisms such as Amoeba sp. and Paramecium sp. and multicellular aquatic organisms such as Daphnia sp. (water fleas) and gastropods (snails or slugs).  Macrophagous feeders take in food in relatively large particles. Most of the bigger animals are macrophagous feeders, such as fish, birds, reptiles and mammals.  Liquid feeders take in liquid food or food with extremely soft tissues. Examples are aphids, bees, flies and mosquitoes.  Detritus feeders take in dead and decaying organic matter. Examples are earthworms, woodlice, centipedes and millipedes.
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Saprophytic Nutrition  Saprotrophs are organisms that feed on dead and decaying organic matter. They have no chlorophyll and cannot synthesize their own organic molecules.  Saprotrophs spore alights on the moist organic substances and germinates to produce hyphae or cells when the conditions are favourable.  Saprotrophs also secrete enzymes such as amylases, proteases and lipases that able to digest their food extracellularly. The products of digestion are then absorbed by saprotrophs through the cell surface.  Examples of saprotrophs include many bacteria and fungi, for instance, Mucor sp., Rhizopus sp., Saccharomyces sp. (yeast) and agaricus sp. (mushroom).  Mucors sp. usually grows in rotten fruits, rotten vegetables or dung while Rhizhopus sp. usually grows in moist breads and both of them causing moulding.  Mushrooms live in soil feeding mainly on cellulose and can cultivated using sawdust or straw. This is because they contain cellulases which are able to digest celluloses in the sawdust or straw into glucoses as food sources.  Saprotrophs play important roles in ecological balance. They act as decomposers breaking down dead and decaying organic matter to release nutrients and chemical elements for recycling and able to be reused by autotrophs.  Besides, saprophytes help to degrade a lot of organic wastes in this world. This is very important in the tropical rain forest floor to get rid of leaves and to produce humus for water retention or reservation.  Some saprotrophs like clostridium botulinum sp., act on decaying food and producing exotoxin botulin which causes food poisoning in man. Symbiotic Nutrition  Symbiosis is a close or permenant interaction between two or more organisms of different species.  A symbiotic relationship may be beneficial, harmful or even not affected to the symbionts. Some symbiotic relationships are obligatory where one or both the organisms cannot survive without the other.  There are four types of symbiotic relationship, namely, mutualism, commensalism, parasitism and amensalism. Mutualism  Mutualism is the close interaction between two different living species where both partners benefit.  Examples of mutualistic relationship are  The nitrogen fixing bacteria Rhizobium sp. in the root nodules of leguminous plant and the plant itself. The nitrogen fixing bacteria
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convert nitrogen to nitrates. The host plant utilizes the nitrates formed to synthesize proteins through metabolic pathway. While the bacteria obtain food and shelter from the host plant.  Lichen is a close relationship between fungus and algal cells. It is found on rocks and tree barks. The fungal hyphae provide shady place, structural support, absorb water and mineral salts from the surrounding for the algal cells. In return, the fungal hyphae obtain sugars synthesized by the photosynthetic algae.  Termites ingest woody tissue but unable to digest the cellulose. Protozoa living in the digestive tract of termites secrete the enzymes required to digest the cellulose.  Mycirrhiza is a mutualistic interaction between a fungus and a plant root. The fungus obtains soluble organic nutrients from the root cells. The plant root obtains minerals salts and water from the fungus which has enhanced absorption of mineral salts. Commensalism  Commensalism is a close interaction between two different living species where one organisms which also known as commensal derives benefits from the interaction but the other which also known as host is unaffected.  Examples of commensal relationship are  A remora fish attaches itself to the underside of a shark and obtains the food fragments or scraps left behind by the shark, gets free transportation and it also gain protection from the shark towards its enemy. While the shark is unaffected in this relationship.  A clown fish gains protection from predators by living amongst the poisonous tentacles of the sea anemones. It also get feeding on the food remnants of the sea anemones. However, the sea anemones are relatively unaffected.  The epiphytes, for example dendrobium crumenatum sp. (pigeon orchids), Platycerium bifurcatum sp. (staghorn ferns), asplenium nidus sp. (bird’s nest ferns) grow on the trunk or branches of the trees to obtain the maximum amount of sunlight for photosynthesis. The trees are not affected by the smaller plants growing on them.  The epizoics, for example, barnacles attach themselves to the skin of a whale or the shell of a crab to get free ride while looking for food. The whales or the crabs are not affected by the barnacles. Parasitism  It is the interaction between an organism (parasite) which temporarily or permanently obtaining nutrients from the other species of organism (host) by living on or inside the organism.
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 Parasites are the organisms that live on and obtain food from other living organisms which are known as hosts.  The parasites absorb blood, plant sap, digested food or tissues and may harm the hosts. However, many successful parasites are well adapted to their hosts and do not cause great harm. This enables them to have a larger number of hosts and to spread more widely.  Parasites can be divided into two groups based on their location on the host from which they derive their food. Namely,  Endoparasites, which are parasites that live inside the host.  Taenia sp. (tapeworms) obtain their nourishment from digested food in the human alimentary canal. They usually live in the small intestines of man and attached by hooks or suckers to the lining of small intestines.  Liver flukes live inside the liver and obtain their food from the cells or bloods. There are some special adaptations of parasitic worms.  They have thick and anti-enzyme cuticle to live in the intestine. They also produce inhibitory substances to prevent being digested by the host’s intestinal enzyme.  They have high reproductive output or high number of eggs reproduced in order to propagate the species.  They have structures that anchor them onto their host. For example, liver flukes have suckers, while tapeworms have both hooks and suckers.  They have lost organ systems and functions that are no longer required. For example, tapeworms have no digestive tract and have lost the function of locomotion.  They have special method of entry into the body of host which usually involving secondary host. For instance, plasmodium sp. have mosquitoes as vectors to bring them to the primary human hosts.  They have their timing of their reproduction related to the hosts. For example, ticks would stay inactive until the arrival of their hosts, the albatrosses. The breeding cycle would be adapted to those of the birds so that the young ticks would have lots of young hosts to feed on.  Phythophthora infestants sp. is a fungal parasite of potato plants.It produce cellulae to digest the plant cell wall


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before its hyphae produce haustoria to penetrate into the host cells and absorb nutrients from them.  Ectoparasites, which are parasites that live on the surface of the host. These parasites attack the surface of their living host and suck up nutrients from their bodies. They have special piercing mouthparts to pierce through the integument and suck the nutrients. Blood eating parasites secrete anticoagulants that prevent blood from clotting during feeding.  Mosquitoes, obtain their food by temporarily visiting to the host.  Mites, live more permanently in the fur of the animals.  Aphids suck up the sap from their plant hosts.  Ticks, fleas and leeches suck the blood from their animal hosts. Medical leeches are bred to suck bad blood from injured or reattached parts of the body to restore blood circulation  An obligate parasite can only survive and reproduce in a living host. Viruses, tapeworm and phytophtora infestants sp. are examples of obligate parasites.  A facultative parasite able to live independently as saprotrophs in the absence of a host. They have the facility to be parasites if the opportunity arises. This kind of parasite can bring about death to its host and live saprotrophically on the death host. Armillaria Mellea sp.(bootlace fungus) that lives saprotrophically on rotting tree stumps, Phytium sp. which causes the disease of cabbage plants and Vibrio cholera sp. that causes cholera are the examples of facultative parasite. Armillaria Mellea sp. can send out long hyphae which can infect, parasitize and kill living trees.  Some green plants are partial parasites. They can carry out photosynthesis but they have to depend on the host plant for water and mineral ions supplement. An example is Mistletoe sp., which has historia for penetrating the xylem of the host to obtain water. Ammensalism  Ammensalism is the type of symbiotic relationship that exists where one species is inhibited or completely obliterated and one is unaffected.  This type of symbiosis is relatively uncommon in rudimentary reference texts, but is omnipresent in the natural world.  An example is a sapling growing under the shadow of a mature tree. The mature tree can begin to rob the sapling of necessary sunlight and, if the mature tree is very large, it can take up rainwater and deplete soil nutrients. Throughout the process the mature tree is unaffected. Indeed, if the sapling dies, the mature tree gains nutrients from the decaying sapling. Note that these nutrients become available because of the sapling's decomposition, rather than from the living sapling, which would be a case of parasitism.
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