Difference Between Parasites and Saprotrophs

Our planet earth comprises of various life forms. Each and every organism has its own characteristics. Each one of the organism differs in their own special characteristic.  Today we will discuss about two main classes of organisms namely parasites and saprotroph.

What are Parasites?

Parasites are the entities growing/inhabiting the body of the host, deriving nutrients from them. As a result, they are provided with ready-made food from the host’s body and have the potential to cause considerable harm to the host as they are directly dependent on them. Without a host, parasites cannot thrive and multiply. Hence, they do not kill the host but can harm causing diseases, few of which can be fatal. Unlike predators, parasites are much smaller than their hosts as they rapidly multiply. Cuscuta plant, flukes, ticks are some examples of parasites.

What are Saprotrophs?

Saprotrophs, on the other hand, are the living entities that derive their nutrition from the dead and decaying organic matter. Saprothrophs do not require a host. As they derive nutrition from dead matter, they are often termed as cleaning agents. Fungi and a few other bacteria are good examples of saprotrophs.

Summary of Parasites vs Saprophyte

The difference between parasites and saprophyte are tabulated below

Parasite Saprophyte
It is defined as an organism that lives on another organism which is known as host either temporarily or permanently and uses the host as a source of food It is defined as an organism which feeds on the matter that is decomposing from the dead organisms
Cell classification
Eukaryotic organism Eukaryotic as well as prokaryotic organism
Food source
Alive on host Alive on the decomposing matter of dead organism
Harmful for the host and may lead to death Not harmful for the living organisms and helps environment
Type of digestion
Intracellular digestion Extracellular digestion
Plasmodium and wasps Bacteria and fungi


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