Disintegrating organisms characteristics and examples

Jonah Lester

The disintegrating organisms They are those that are in charge of decomposing the organic matter of the remains of organisms into inorganic matter. They are divided into insects, fungi, and bacteria. For example, dung beetles are integrative.

Ecosystems are made up of three large groups; producers, consumers and disintegrators. Producers are the group of green plants, which absorb energy from the sun and transform it into food energy.

Snake decomposed by bacteria and insects.

They also take mineral substances and turn them into plant matter, which in turn feeds other living things..

Consumers are the group of animals that we can distinguish into two large groups; herbivores and carnivores. Herbivores are those that depend on green plants for their livelihood.

Carnivores depend on herbivorous animals for food. And we can also distinguish the group of omnivores that draws energy from both groups of animals.

The third group of organisms in an ecosystem is the disintegrators. These feed on dead plant and animal matter and turn it into components of inorganic matter..

Through the decomposition of organic remains, these organisms obtain the necessary energy to survive. They take proteins, sugars, lipids and vitamins from decomposing matter, and convert them into inorganic substances or minerals that become part of the soil.

Not only do they get nutrients, but they return nutrients to the soil that will be part of the chain again when plants use them as nutrients..

If these organisms did not decompose living matter, the bodies of living things would be piled up and would not decompose. Likewise, the soil would lose its nutrients, since the plants would take advantage of them and no nutrient would return to the soil..

The disappearance of one of the ecosystem groups would cause the entire ecosystem to perish. Everything in the ecosystem is interrelated, and if something changes, it will alter the balance of the ecosystem in a way that can destroy it.

Decomposition process example

Four-level trophic pyramid.

To give an example, we are going to use the process of decomposition of a body.

First, for a body to start the decomposition process it has to be dead, therefore its heart has to stop beating.

As a result of this, the cells of the body stop receiving blood and since they do not receive oxygen, they lose the ability to respond.

The bacteria then attack the cells, as these are defenseless, they cannot fight against the bacteria. Enzymes found within the cells themselves break down the body.

The decomposing body becomes a variety of living organisms that feed on the remains, transforming them into inorganic materials that are returned to the soil.

Examples of disintegrating organisms: fungi, bacteria, and insects

Most of the disintegrating organisms are fungi and bacteria, but we also find parasites, insects and mites.


Bacteria are the most abundant organisms on the planet and most are natural disintegrators. Depending on how they get carbon, they can be classified into autotrophs, which get it through CO2, or heterotrophs, which get it through organic matter..

They can also be classified into two other large varieties as phototrophs, where the source of energy is light, and chemotrophs, where they obtain energy through chemical compounds..

Putting these two major classifications together, we obtain chemoheterotrophic, chemoautotrophic, photoautrophic and photoheterotrophic bacteria..

Chemoheterotrophs are those that obtain carbon through a chemical compound, using light as energy. Chemiautrophs, which use inorganic compounds and CO2 as an energy source.

Photoautrotrophs that use light and CO2. And finally, photoheterotrophs, which obtain nutrients from organic matter using light as energy..

Through these forms of feeding, bacteria produce inorganic matter that they transmit to the soil, which is part of the plant's diet..


Fungi, on the other hand, form a completely different group from animals or plants. These organisms are heterotrophic, unlike plants they do not produce their own food, but obtain nutrients through absorption. They are classified into four large groups according to their feeding process.

Saprophytic fungi are those that feed on organic and decomposing matter. They are the most frequent fungi, and help mineralization of plant remains.

Another large group of fungi are the Lichenized. These fungi form a symbiotic organism with an alga, and feed on decomposing plant material.

Mycorrhizal fungi are those that decompose organic substances found in the soil. Many of these form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of some plant.

The plant offers you the excess sugar and takes advantage of the nutrients that the fungus returns to the soil. Parasitic fungi, on the other hand, affect living organisms to feed on them. Although they are microscopic, they can kill entire plantations and trees.


To end the group of decomposers, we will refer to decomposing insects. Here we will make a distinction according to the origin and state of the matter from which they feed.

Scavengers or ghouls are those that feed on fresh corpses of other animals. Saprophages feed on corpses or decomposed remains, such as worms or beetles. And finally, the dungs. These feed on the excrement of other animals, for example the dung beetle.

Thanks to this large group of the ecosystem, the nutrients that were part of the organic matter are once again mineralized inorganic matter that is returned to the soil; necessary for plants to acquire their nutrients, and for animals in turn to feed on plants.

We must bear in mind that in any ecosystem there will be the three large groups of organisms, and that if any were missing, the ecosystem would not survive.


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