Dictionary > Decomposition


The process or act of breaking down an organic material or substance into smaller constituent parts, especially by the action of decomposers (e.g. fungi and bacteria); disintegration; the state of rotting or decaying
Decomposition generally means the decay or dissolution of a substance by altering the ingredients of a compound. It may also refer to a state in which a particular substance is being reduced into its original elements. However, in biology, decomposition refers to a biological process of breaking down an organic material into smaller constituent parts.
The decomposition of organic substances is ecologically significant. It plays a part in the nutrient cycle. It is an essential process of recycling matter in the biosphere. Dead bodies of organisms are decomposed through the action of various decomposers. A decomposer is an organism whose ecological function involves the recycling of nutrients by performing the natural process of decomposition as it feeds on decaying organisms. Examples of decomposers are fungi and bacteria that obtain their nutrients from dead plant or animal material. They break down cells of dead plants and animals into simpler substances, which become organic nutrients available to the ecosystem.
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Related form(s):

  • decompose (verb, to separate the constituent parts of; to resolve into original elements; to set free from previously existing forms of chemical combination; to bring to dissolution; to rot or decay)

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