Decomposers are organisms that break down dead or decaying organisms, and in doing so, they carry out a process possible by only certain kingdoms /including fungi for example decomposition.[1] Like herbivores and predators, decomposers are heterotrophic, meaning that they use organic substrates to get their energy, carbon and nutrients for growth and development. While the terms decomposer and detritivore are often interchangeably used, detritivores must ingest and digest dead matter via internal processes while decomposers can directly absorb nutrients through chemical and biological processes hence breaking down matter without ingesting it.[2] Thus, invertebrates such as earthworms, woodlice, and sea cucumbers are technically detritivores, not decomposers, since they must ingest nutrients and are unable to absorb them externally.[3]


This decomposer is thought of as a primary source of litter and or waste in the ecosystems. [4]Fungi has been known to produce a selection of prescription drugs along with many other antibiotics. [5]Unlike bacteria, which are unicellular organisms and are decomposers as well, most saprotrophic fungi grow as a branching network of hyphae. While bacteria are restricted to growing and feeding on the exposed surfaces of organic matter, fungi can use their hyphae to penetrate larger pieces of organic matter, below the surface. Additionally, only wood-decay fungi have evolved the enzymes necessary to decompose lignin, a chemically complex substance found in wood.[6] These two factors make fungi the primary decomposers in forests, where litter has high concentrations of lignin and often occurs in large pieces. Fungi decompose organic matter by releasing enzymes to break down the decaying material, after which they absorb the nutrients in the decaying material.[7] Hyphae used to break down matter and absorb nutrients are also used in reproduction. When two compatible fungi hyphae grow close to each other, they will then fuse together for reproduction and form another fungus.[7]

See also


  1. "NOAA. ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve: Decomposers". Archived from the original on 2014-10-09. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
  2. Trophic level. Eds. M.McGinley & C.J.cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC
  3. "Decomposers". Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  4. "10 Facts about Decomposition". Fact File. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  5. "Introduction to the Fungi".
  6. Blanchette, Robert (September 1991). "Delignification by Wood-Decay Fungi". Annual Review of Phytopathology. 29: 281–403. doi:10.1146/
  7. Waggoner, Ben; Speer, Brian. "Fungi: Life History and Ecology". Introduction to the Funge=24 January 2014.

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.