This article explores the heat and mass transfer behaviour of magnetohydrodynamic free convective flow past a permeable vertical rotating cone and a plate filled with gyrotactic microorganisms in the presence of nonlinear thermal radiation, thermo diffusion and diffusion thermo effects. We presented dual solutions for the flow over a rotating cone and a rotating flat plate cases. Similarity variables are employed to convert the nonlinear partial differential equations into ordinary differential equations. Comparisons with previously published work are performed and results are found to be in excellent agreement. The resultant non-dimensional governing equations along with associated boundary conditions are solved numerically using Runge–Kutta and Newton’s methods. The impact of pertinent parameters on velocity, temperature, concentration and density of the motile microorganisms along with the friction factor, local Nusselt, Sherwood numbers and the local density of the motile microorganisms was determined and analyzed with the help of graphs and tables. Results proved that there is a significant variation of heat and mass transfer in the flow over a rotating cone and a plate. It is also found that the heat and mass transfer performance of the flow over a rotating cone is significantly high when compared with the flow over a rotating plate.