- any organism that lives on dead organic matter, as certain fungi and bacteria.
- any plant that lives and feeds on dead organic matter using mycorrhizal fungi associated with its roots; a saprotrophic plant
adj.1872; see saprophyte + -ic. n.“bacteria or fungus that grows on decaying organic matter,” 1867, from French, from Greek sapros “putrid” + phyton “plant” (see phyto-). Related: Saprophytism. n.
- An organism, especially a fungus or bacterium, that grows on and derives its nourishment from dead or decaying organic matter.
- An organism, especially a fungus or bacterium, that lives on and gets its nourishment from dead organisms or decaying organic material. Saprophytes recycle organic material in the soil, breaking it down into in simpler compounds that can be taken up by other organisms.