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Nutrition In Plants

Last Updated : 07 Aug, 2023
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Nutrition in plants refers to the process through which plants get nourishment in order to stay healthy, grow, and repair any of their damaged body parts. Whether they are plants or animals, all living things require nourishment to survive on this planet. Plants have special features as they can manufacture food by absorbing basic ingredients found in their environment, such as carbon dioxide, minerals, sunshine, and water. Plants are basically primary producers. Now some questions arise such as Do plants eat special foods? Do they need to be concerned about the type of nourishment they are consuming? You’ve come to the right site if you’ve ever wondered about these questions. Dive in to glean more details.

Mode of Nutrition

Nutrition is a vital biochemical and physiological process through which an organism utilizes food to sustain its life in a healthy way. Nutrition gives nutrients to organisms, which can then be digested to produce energy and chemical structures. Malnutrition occurs when adequate nutrients are not obtained. Thus, nutrients are the necessary components of food. Plants’ raw resources to make their food mainly come from their surroundings, including minerals, carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight. Two modes of nourishment exist as follows:

  1. Autotrophic nutrition: Plants have the unique ability to manufacture their own food by converting readily available inorganic elements like sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into organic ones. They are often known as primary producers, as they exhibit autotrophic nutrition.
  2. Heterotrophic nutrition: The heterotrophic mode of nutrition refers to plants that lack chlorophyll and rely on food from other plants. Both humans and animals rely on plants for nourishment, they are referred to as heterotrophs.

Autotrophic Nutrition in Plants

Autotrophs are living things that can make their own nourishment from inorganic resources and can survive by themselves entirely without the help of other living things. Because of this, autotrophs are frequently referred to as “producers.” They give the energy that all heterotrophs need in order to survive, and they are the foundation of an ecosystem’s energy pyramid. For instance, there would be no herbivorous animals and no carnivorous creatures that consume herbivores if there were no plants.


Green plant leaves use a process called photosynthesis to turn sunlight energy into chemical energy by producing carbohydrates. The process of photosynthesis occurs in the chloroplast. Chlorophyll is a green pigment present in all the green parts of plants and is localized inside the chloroplast. It facilitates solar energy absorption. In the process of photosynthesis, food is prepared by using water and carbon dioxide in the presence of sunlight. It is clear that solar energy is a major part of the food-making process of plants and plant is a primary producer. So, we can conclude that the Sun is the main source of energy for all living things.

The three phases of photosynthesis are as follows:

  1. The chlorophyll in plants absorbs solar energy.
  2. Water molecules are split into hydrogen and oxygen by light energy, which is transformed into chemical energy.
  3. By using chemical energy, hydrogen reduces carbon dioxide to create carbohydrates like glucose.


Obtaining Various Components for Photosynthesis

To carry out the photosynthesis plant obtain various components from its surrounding, those are:

Plants obtain Carbon dioxide

  • The leaf surface of plants consists of numerous small pores known as stomata.
  • These pores are the entrance gate of carbon dioxide gas.
  • A pair of guard cells surround each pore in the stomata.
  • These stomatal pores opening and shutting are controlled by the guard cells.
  • The stomatal openings close when a plant doesn’t require carbon dioxide and wants to conserve water.

Pants obtaining Water

  • The amount of water needed for photosynthesis is taken up by the roots of plants from the soil through the osmosis process.
  • The xylem vessels of the plant carry the absorbed water upward to the leaves.
  • Additionally, the plants require additional raw components including nitrogen, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, etc. These elements are taken up by plants from the soil.

Heterotrophic Plant Nutrition

In this type of nutrition, plants lack chlorophyll and rely on other plants for their existence. These plants are also known as parasites.

Heterotrophic plants

Following are many heterotrophic plant species that are primarily categorized according to how they obtain their nutrition:

  1. Parasitic
  2. Insectivorous
  3. Saprophytic
  4. Symbiotic

Parasitic Nutrition

Some heterotrophic plants rely on food from other plants and animals. These plants are referred to as parasitic plants. The parasitic plant takes its nutrition and does not benefit its host in any aspect.

Example: Cuscuta and Cassytha.

Insectivorous Nutrition

Some plants are referred to as carnivorous or heterotrophic plants as they intake insectivorous nutrition and have unique structural characteristics that enable them to capture insects. They release digestive fluids and break down the insects and extract their nutrition. These plants grow and flourish on mineral-deficient soil.

Example: Pitcher plants and Venus flytrap

Saprophytic Nutrition

Saprophytic nutrition revolves around dead and rotten plants and animals as it is the source of food for saprophytic plants. They basically release digestive secretions and break down the dead and rotting debris and assimilate the nutrients.

Example: Mushrooms and mold

Symbiotic Nutrition

Symbiotic nutrition refers to a close relationship between two distinct plants from two distinct categories where they gain nutrients from each other.

Example: The relationship between fungi and trees.

Soil Nutrient Replenishment

If a plant is deficient in an essential nutrient, it will not be able to complete its life cycle. It won’t be able to produce enough roots, stalks, leaves, or flowers, and it won’t be able to produce seeds to create new plants. The plant will frequently die.

On the other side, too much of a nutrient can harm or even kill plants. For instance, too much nitrogen may cause a plant to grow more leaves but little to no fruit. The leaves will eventually turn yellow and die if they are exposed to too much manganese. Furthermore, a plant can die from an excess of boron. So, a balanced nutrient cycle is necessary. The plant is directly linked with soil and gets its major nutrients from it. Replenishment of nutrients in the soil is the major factor responsible for plant growth. The nitrogen content of the soil declines after harvest. For plants to produce proteins, they require a lot of nitrogen. The atmospheric nitrogen gas is not immediately used by plants. This nitrogen can be transformed by specific bacteria into a form that plants can utilize easily. Leguminous plants’ root nodules contain rhizobium bacteria. These bacteria absorb atmospheric nitrogen gas and transform it into water-soluble nitrogen compounds so that the leguminous plants can use it for growth.

Leguminous plants give food and a place to live in exchange because Rhizobium bacteria cannot prepare their own food. Thus, they are mutually benefitting each other. This relationship is crucial for farmers because it eliminates the need for them to fertilize the soil.

FAQs on Nutrition In Plants

Q: Where does photosynthesis occur in plants?


The disc-shaped cell organelles known as chloroplasts contain the pigment chlorophyll. At this location in the plants, photosynthesis takes place.

Q: Give the names of several essential nutrients that plants need.


A plant needs two types of nutrients that are as follow:

  1. Macronutrients include Sulfur, Calcium, Magnesium, etc.
  2. Micronutrients include zinc, boron, manganese, molybdenum, chlorine, etc.

Q: Do plants that are insectivorous eat real insects?


Plants that consume insects for real are called insectivorous. The insects they eat provide them with the majority of their nutrition. They capture and consume insects in order to ingest nutrients.

Q: What do you mean by saprophytic nutrition?


Saprophytic nutrition is the dietary nutrition that plants and animals get by feeding on dead and rotten matter.

Q: Which area of the plant is considered a “food factory”?


A plant’s leaves are regarded as its food factory. They have a pigment called chlorophyll, which stores the energy from sunlight and uses it throughout the photosynthesis process. The preparation of food is done by this only.

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