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auto, self + trophe, nourishment. Capable of obtaining food or nourishment from simple raw materials. Autotrophic organisms or autotrophs are organic compound producers such as algae, plants, and certain bacteria that use carbon dioxide or carbonates, inorganic nitrogen, water, and an energy source such as photosynthesis from sunlight to make (or synthesize) complex molecules. Opposite of heterotrophic. See Also: Heterotrophic Microorganisms