Primary producers are organisms which are able to make nutrients from substances in the abiotic environment.
- Abiotic means components within the environment which are non-living. Instead they are chemical or physical. From a biological point of view, abiotic components can include light, heat, radiation, water or gas. Pressure and sound waves can also be said to be abiotic factors.
- Primary producers are organisms that can use abiotic compounds to produce biomass. In other words, they make their fuel from non-living things.
- Plants are a great example of primary producers. They use photosynthesis to make their energy. This is a process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight.
- Although organisms that use photosynthesis, and these include many types of bacteria, contribute the majority of primary producers, there are other examples of primary producers. Some unicellular organisms produce biomass from the oxidation of inorganic compounds in hydrothermal vents in the deep ocean. These organisms are called archaea and were once grouped together with bacteria in terms of the way their composition was described. This classification is now regarded as outdated though as it has been found that archaea have an independent evolutionary history which show differences in their make-up to all other forms of life.
- The organisms that manufacture their nutrients from biotic substances, i.e. Those made by living things, are called 'reducers'. Fungi is the best example of this type of organism. It breaks down dead or decaying organisms and carries out the process of decomposition.