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Life Processes

Modes of nutrition

In animals, control and coordination is governed by the nervous system. However, plants do not have a nervous system.

Then, how do plants respond to stimuli?

Plants respond to stimuli by showing movement.

Have you ever seen any movement in plants?

  • When you touch a sensitive plant such as touch- me- not (Mimosa pudica), the plant folds its leaves and droops.
  • When a seed germinates, the root grows down in the soil and the stem grows up in the air.

In the first example, touch is the stimulus and the plant responds by folding its leaves. Therefore, the plant shows movement by folding its leaves.

In the second example, the seed germinates and shows directional movement.

In the first example, movement is independent of growth i.e. there is no growth involved. However, in the second example, the movement of the seedling is caused by growth. If the seedling is prevented from growing, then it will not show any movement.

Thus, plants exhibit both growth-dependent and growth-independent movements.

Growth-independent movements

In plants (like animals), the information is carried from cells by electro-chemical means. However, there is no specialized tissue for the conduction of information. In fact, plants change their shape by changing the amount of water in them. This results in swelling and shrinking. This change of shape results in movement.

Growth-dependent movements

You must have seen plants such as peas and grapes with tendrils. Movement in these plants occurs in the growing stem of the tendrils. When the tendrils come in contact with a supporting object, they coil and cling around it. Plants respond to stimuli slowly by growing in a particular direction. This type of growth is directional.

Nastic movements in plants

Nastic movements are the movements in plants that take place in response to the environment stimulus. One of the main feature of the nastic movement is that the direction of the movement is independent of the direction of stimulus.

For example, the movement of organs like leaves and petals that are directed by the touch as in the leaflets of touch me not plant, wherein the plant droops when touched from any side.
The various kinds of nastic movements shown by plants are:

It is the movement of a plant in reponse to an external stimuli like touch, vibration etc. For example, Mimosa plant responds by "folding up of leaves" when touched. The sensitive part of the plant involved in this type of movement is called pulvinus which is a soft, swollen structure present at the base of the leaf. 

Some plants show movement in plant part in response to the light. For example, flowers of sunflower and lotus open in morning. 

It is the movement of plant parts in response to the rise and fall in temperature. For example, flower of crocus and tulip open with a rise in temperature and close with a drop in temperature.

Do You Know?

  • The Venus flytrap is an insectivorous plant, in which leaves act as trap lobes?

  • The movement of these lobes traps the insects. Hence, it is an example of complex movement in plants.

We know that all living organisms require food to survive. You may wonder what is there in food which helps in the survival of organisms? Well, the answer is nutrients. Organisms consume nutrients, which enable them to carry out various body functions.

The process by which an organism consumes food is called nutrition, which are then utilized by the body for various functions.

Modes of nutrition

Autotrophic Nutrition: The term ‘autotroph’ is derived from the Greek word ‘Auto’ meaning self and ‘trophos’ meaning nutrition.

In this mode of nutrition, organisms prepare or synthesize their own food with the help of inorganic raw materials in the presence of sunlight. These organisms are known as autotrophs. All green plants and some bacteria are autotrophs.

Heterotrophic Nutrition: The term ‘heterotroph’ is derived from the Greek words ‘Heteros’ meaning different or other, and ‘trophos’ meaning nutrition.

In this mode of nutrition, organisms obtain energy from the intake of complex organic substances, generally from plant and animal sources. These organisms are known as heterotrophs. All fungi and animals and some bacteria are heterotrophs. 

Let us study about various types of heterotrophs.

Herbivores: These are the animals that feed directly on plants. For example, cow, goat, rabbit etc.

Carnivores: The animals that feed on herbivores are known as carnivores. For example, tiger, lion etc.

Omnivores: This includes the animals which eat both plants and animals. For example, humans etc.

Saprophytes: These are the organisms that feed on dead and decayed organic matter. For example, bacteria, mushroom etc.

Parasites: These are the organisms that live inside or on the body of other living organisms called the Host and obtain food from them. For example, Cuscuta plant that obtains food from green plants, Ascaris that lives in the intestine of humans etc.

Insectivorous plants: Some plants live in the areas where the soil is deficient in nitrogen. These…

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