Pertaining to the utilization of organic compounds as source of carbon.
For instance, a heterotrophic organism is one utilizing organic compound to obtain carbon that is essential for growth and development. Examples of such organisms are animals, which are not capable of manufacturing food by inorganic sources, hence, must consume organic substrates for sustenance.
Word origin: Greek, heterone = (an)other + trophe = nutrition.
Related forms: heterotroph (noun), heterotrophically (adjective), heterotrophy (noun).
Compare: autotrophic, photosynthetic.
See also: photoheterotroph, chemoheterotroph.