Before entering fully into the definition of saprophyte it is necessary to know the etymological origin of the said term and that leads us to determine that it is the result of the sum of two Greek words:
-The adjective "saprós", which is equivalent to "rotten".
-The noun "phytos", which can be translated as "plant".
Saprophyte is the adjective which is used to qualify the organisms whose food consists of ingest organic substances in a state of decomposition . The term is also used to name this kind of food.
The saprophytes, in this way, are nourished from the waste that come from different plant or animal organisms. They can eat droppings, dead animals or dried leaves, to name a few possibilities.
Saprophytic organisms appeal to decomposing organic substances To obtain the Energy They need to live. Some organisms are forced saprophytes since they can only get nutrients this way, while others are facultative saprophytes because they usually feed through different means and resort to saprotrophy only in certain stages.
Although they have different characteristics, saprophytes usually have cells whose properties allow them to develop an osmotropic type nutrition. This means that they are responsible for absorbing nutrients through the osmosis .
Saprophytes usually secrete enzymes to hydrolyze the organic molecules found in the waste. In this way, it releases biomolecules that are soluble and that it absorbs by osmosis thanks to the action of your cells.
In addition to all of the above, it is worth knowing that the so-called saprophytic fungi, which develop their lives on what is inert organic matter, take on special prominence. This means that the way they have to feed is to undertake the solubilization of the material on which they just settled.
There are several types of saprophytic fungi, highlighting the following:
-Those that grow on animal droppings, specifically the usual thing is that they are on the droppings of herbivorous animals. Examples of fungi in this category are Panaeolus or Pilobolus.
-Those that develop on wood or its remains, such as hepatica fistulin, ganoderma lucidum, piptoporus betulinus or fomes fomeius.
-Those who make their lives on meadows or pastures.
- Those who develop a life cycle on what would be organic matter that is charred as a result of a forest fire or similar. These can also present the peculiarity that they grow on the remains that have been left of bonfires, either carried out as part of leisure activities or as part of actions of silvicultural works.
The existence of saprophytes is indispensable in the food chain since they help the development of decomposition. This allows them to contribute to soil fertility.
It should be noted that scavengers, such as vultures , are usually described as saprophytes for feeding on the decaying corpses of others species .