Open Access Articles- Top Results for Decomposer


For The Matches album of the same name, see Decomposer (album).
File:Fungi in Borneo.jpg
The fungi on this tree are decomposers

Decomposers are organisms that break down dead or decaying organisms, and in doing so, carry out the natural process of 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. Decomposers can break down cells of other organisms using biochemical reactions that convert the prey tissue into metabolically useful chemical products, without need for internal digestion.[2] Decomposers use dead organisms and non-living organic compounds as their food source.


Main article: Bacteria

Bacteria are important decomposers; they are widely distributed and can break down just about any type of organic matter.[3] and the bacteria on Earth may form a biomass that exceeds that of all living plants and animals.[4] Bacteria are vital in the recycling of nutrients, and many steps in nutrient cycles depend on these organisms.

shivam abrol


The primary decomposers of litter in many ecosystems are fungi. Unlike bacteria, which are unicellular organisms, 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. Additionally, only wood-decay fungi have evolved the enzymes necessary to decompose lignin, a chemically complex substance found in wood.[5] 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.[6] Hyphae used to break down matter and absorb nutrients are also used in reproduction. When two compatible fungi's hyphae grow close to each other, they will then fuse together for reproduction and form another fungus .[6]


Various types of worms are also considered decomposers, as they can help with processing of nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium in the soil.[7] They can also act as detritivores. The terms decomposer and detritivore are often used interchangeably, but are slightly different.

See also


  1. ^ NOAA. ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve: Decomposers.
  2. ^ C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Trophic level. Eds. M.McGinley & C.J.cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC
  3. ^ Whitman, William; Coleman, David; Wiebe, William (June 1998). "Prokaryotes: The unseen majority". Proceeings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America 95 (12): 6578–6583. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Hogan, Michael (October 2014). "Bacteria". Encyclopedia of Earth. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Blanchette, Robert (September 1991). "Delignification by Wood-Decay Fungi". Annual Review of Phytopathology 29: 281–403. doi:10.1146/ Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Waggoner, Ben; Speer, Brian. "Fungi: Life History and Ecology". Introduction to the Fungi. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Lemtiri, Aboulkacem; Colinet, Gilles; Alabi, Taofic; Cluzeau, Daniel; Zirbes, Lara; Haubruge, Éric; Francis, Frédéric (2014). "Impacts of earthworms on soil components and dynamics. A review". Base 18 (1): 121–133. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  • Beare MH, Hendrix PF, Cheng W (1992) Microbial and faunal interactions and effects on litter nitrogen and decomposition in agroecosystems. Ecological Monographs 62: 569-591
  • Hunt HW, Colema9n DC, Ingham ER, Ingham RE, Elliot ET, Moore JC, Rose SL, Reid CPP, Morley CR (1987) "The detrital food web in a shortgrass prairie". Biology and Fertility of Soils 3: 57-68
  • Smith TM, Smith RL (2006) Elements of Ecology. Sixth edition. Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco, CA.