Information Symbiosis - Biology Symbiosis - Biology

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Learning Objectives

  • Compare and contrast the three different types of symbiotic relationships

Symbiotic relationships, or symbioses (plural), are close interactions between individuals of different species over an extended period of time which impact the abundance and distribution of the associating populations. Most scientists accept this definition, but some restrict the term to only those species that are mutualistic, where both individuals benefit from the interaction. In this discussion, the broader definition will be used.


A commensal relationship occurs when one species benefits from the close, prolonged interaction, while the other neither benefits nor is harmed. Birds nesting in trees provide an example of a commensal relationship (Figure 1). The tree is not harmed by the presence of the nest among its branches. The nests are light and produce little strain on the structural integrity of the branch, and most of the leaves, which the tree uses to get energy by photosynthesis, are above the nest so they are unaffected. The bird, on the other hand, benefits greatly. If the bird had to nest in the open, its eggs and young would be vulnerable to predators. Another example of a commensal relationship is the clown fish and the sea anemone. The sea anemone is not harmed by the fish, and the fish benefits with protection from predators who would be stung upon nearing the sea anemone.


A second type of symbiotic relationship is called mutualism, where two species benefit from their interaction. Some scientists believe that these are the only true examples of symbiosis. For example, termites have a mutualistic relationship with protozoa that live in the insect’s gut (Figure 2a). The termite benefits from the ability of bacterial symbionts within the protozoa to digest cellulose. The termite itself cannot do this, and without the protozoa, it would not be able to obtain energy from its food (cellulose from the wood it chews and eats). The protozoa and the bacterial symbionts benefit by having a protective environment and a constant supply of food from the wood chewing actions of the termite. Lichens have a mutualistic relationship between fungus and photosynthetic algae or bacteria (Figure 2b). As these symbionts grow together, the glucose produced by the algae provides nourishment for both organisms, whereas the physical structure of the lichen protects the algae from the elements and makes certain nutrients in the atmosphere more available to the algae.


A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another living organism and derives nutrients from it. In this relationship, the parasite benefits, but the organism being fed upon, the host is harmed. The host is usually weakened by the parasite as it siphons resources the host would normally use to maintain itself. The parasite, however, is unlikely to kill the host, especially not quickly, because this would allow no time for the organism to complete its reproductive cycle by spreading to another host.

The reproductive cycles of parasites are often very complex, sometimes requiring more than one host species. A tapeworm is a parasite that causes disease in humans when contaminated, undercooked meat such as pork, fish, or beef is consumed (Figure 3). The tapeworm can live inside the intestine of the host for several years, benefiting from the food the host is bringing into its gut by eating, and may grow to be over 50 ft long by adding segments. The parasite moves from species to species in a cycle, making two hosts necessary to complete its life cycle. Another common parasite is Plasmodium falciparum, the protozoan cause of malaria, a significant disease in many parts of the world. Living in human liver and red blood cells, the organism reproduces asexually in the gut of blood-feeding mosquitoes to complete its life cycle. Thus malaria is spread from human to human by mosquitoes, one of many arthropod-borne infectious diseases.


The definition of symbiosis was a matter of debate for 130 years. [6] In 1877, Albert Bernhard Frank used the term symbiosis to describe the mutualistic relationship in lichens. [7] [8] In 1878, the German mycologist Heinrich Anton de Bary defined it as "the living together of unlike organisms". [9] [10] [11] The definition has varied among scientists, with some advocating that it should only refer to persistent mutualisms, while others thought it should apply to all persistent biological interactions (in other words, to mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism, but excluding brief interactions such as predation). In the 21st century, the latter has become the definition widely accepted by biologists. [12]

In 1949, Edward Haskell proposed an integrative approach with a classification of "co-actions", [13] later adopted by biologists as "interactions". [14] [15] [16] [17]

Obligate versus facultative Edit

Relationships can be obligate, meaning that one or both of the symbionts entirely depend on each other for survival. For example, in lichens, which consist of fungal and photosynthetic symbionts, the fungal partners cannot live on their own. [10] [18] [19] [20] The algal or cyanobacterial symbionts in lichens, such as Trentepohlia, can generally live independently, and their part of the relationship is therefore described as facultative (optional). [21]

Endosymbiosis is any symbiotic relationship in which one symbiont lives within the tissues of the other, either within the cells or extracellularly. [5] [22] Examples include diverse microbiomes: rhizobia, nitrogen-fixing bacteria that live in root nodules on legume roots actinomycetes, nitrogen-fixing bacteria such as Frankia, which live in alder root nodules single-celled algae inside reef-building corals and bacterial endosymbionts that provide essential nutrients to about 10%–15% of insects. [ citation needed ]

Ectosymbiosis is any symbiotic relationship in which the symbiont lives on the body surface of the host, including the inner surface of the digestive tract or the ducts of exocrine glands. [5] [23] Examples of this include ectoparasites such as lice commensal ectosymbionts such as the barnacles, which attach themselves to the jaw of baleen whales and mutualist ectosymbionts such as cleaner fish.

Competition Edit

Competition can be defined as an interaction between organisms or species, in which the fitness of one is lowered by the presence of another. Limited supply of at least one resource (such as food, water, and territory) used by both usually facilitates this type of interaction, although the competition may also exist over other 'amenities', such as females for reproduction (in the case of male organisms of the same species). [24]

Mutualism or interspecies reciprocal altruism is a long-term relationship between individuals of different species where both individuals benefit. [25] Mutualistic relationships may be either obligate for both species, obligate for one but facultative for the other, or facultative for both.

A large percentage of herbivores have mutualistic gut flora to help them digest plant matter, which is more difficult to digest than animal prey. [4] This gut flora is made up of cellulose-digesting protozoans or bacteria living in the herbivores' intestines. [26] Coral reefs are the result of mutualism between coral organisms and various types of algae which live inside them. [27] Most land plants and land ecosystems rely on mutualism between the plants, which fix carbon from the air, and mycorrhyzal fungi, which help in extracting water and minerals from the ground. [28]

An example of mutualism is the relationship between the ocellaris clownfish that dwell among the tentacles of Ritteri sea anemones. The territorial fish protects the anemone from anemone-eating fish, and in turn the stinging tentacles of the anemone protect the clownfish from its predators. A special mucus on the clownfish protects it from the stinging tentacles. [29]

A further example is the goby, a fish which sometimes lives together with a shrimp. The shrimp digs and cleans up a burrow in the sand in which both the shrimp and the goby fish live. The shrimp is almost blind, leaving it vulnerable to predators when outside its burrow. In case of danger, the goby touches the shrimp with its tail to warn it. When that happens both the shrimp and goby quickly retreat into the burrow. [30] Different species of gobies (Elacatinus spp.) also clean up ectoparasites in other fish, possibly another kind of mutualism. [31]

A non-obligate symbiosis is seen in encrusting bryozoans and hermit crabs. The bryozoan colony (Acanthodesia commensale) develops a cirumrotatory growth and offers the crab (Pseudopagurus granulimanus) a helicospiral-tubular extension of its living chamber that initially was situated within a gastropod shell. [32]

Many types of tropical and sub-tropical ants have evolved very complex relationships with certain tree species. [33]

Endosymbiosis Edit

In endosymbiosis, the host cell lacks some of the nutrients which the endosymbiont provides. As a result, the host favors endosymbiont's growth processes within itself by producing some specialized cells. These cells affect the genetic composition of the host in order to regulate the increasing population of the endosymbionts and ensure that these genetic changes are passed onto the offspring via vertical transmission (heredity). [34]

A spectacular example of obligate mutualism is the relationship between the siboglinid tube worms and symbiotic bacteria that live at hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. The worm has no digestive tract and is wholly reliant on its internal symbionts for nutrition. The bacteria oxidize either hydrogen sulfide or methane, which the host supplies to them. These worms were discovered in the late 1980s at the hydrothermal vents near the Galapagos Islands and have since been found at deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold seeps in all of the world's oceans. [35]

As the endosymbiont adapts to the host's lifestyle, the endosymbiont changes dramatically. There is a drastic reduction in its genome size, as many genes are lost during the process of metabolism, and DNA repair and recombination, while important genes participating in the DNA-to-RNA transcription, protein translation and DNA/RNA replication are retained. The decrease in genome size is due to loss of protein coding genes and not due to lessening of inter-genic regions or open reading frame (ORF) size. Species that are naturally evolving and contain reduced sizes of genes can be accounted for an increased number of noticeable differences between them, thereby leading to changes in their evolutionary rates. When endosymbiotic bacteria related with insects are passed on to the offspring strictly via vertical genetic transmission, intracellular bacteria go across many hurdles during the process, resulting in the decrease in effective population sizes, as compared to the free-living bacteria. The incapability of the endosymbiotic bacteria to reinstate their wild type phenotype via a recombination process is called Muller's ratchet phenomenon. Muller's ratchet phenomenon, together with less effective population sizes, leads to an accretion of deleterious mutations in the non-essential genes of the intracellular bacteria. [36] This can be due to lack of selection mechanisms prevailing in the relatively "rich" host environment. [37] [38]

Commensalism describes a relationship between two living organisms where one benefits and the other is not significantly harmed or helped. It is derived from the English word commensal, used of human social interaction. It derives from a medieval Latin word meaning sharing food, formed from com- (with) and mensa (table). [25] [39]

Commensal relationships may involve one organism using another for transportation (phoresy) or for housing (inquilinism), or it may also involve one organism using something another created, after its death (metabiosis). Examples of metabiosis are hermit crabs using gastropod shells to protect their bodies, and spiders building their webs on plants.

In a parasitic relationship, the parasite benefits while the host is harmed. [40] Parasitism takes many forms, from endoparasites that live within the host's body to ectoparasites and parasitic castrators that live on its surface and micropredators like mosquitoes that visit intermittently. Parasitism is an extremely successful mode of life about 40% of all animal species are parasites, and the average mammal species is host to 4 nematodes, 2 cestodes, and 2 trematodes. [41]

Mimicry is a form of symbiosis in which a species adopts distinct characteristics of another species to alter its relationship dynamic with the species being mimicked, to its own advantage. Among the many types of mimicry are Batesian and Müllerian, the first involving one-sided exploitation, the second providing mutual benefit. Batesian mimicry is an exploitative three-party interaction where one species, the mimic, has evolved to mimic another, the model, to deceive a third, the dupe. In terms of signalling theory, the mimic and model have evolved to send a signal the dupe has evolved to receive it from the model. This is to the advantage of the mimic but to the detriment of both the model, whose protective signals are effectively weakened, and of the dupe, which is deprived of an edible prey. For example, a wasp is a strongly-defended model, which signals with its conspicuous black and yellow coloration that it is an unprofitable prey to predators such as birds which hunt by sight many hoverflies are Batesian mimics of wasps, and any bird that avoids these hoverflies is a dupe. [42] [43] In contrast, Müllerian mimicry is mutually beneficial as all participants are both models and mimics. [44] [45] For example, different species of bumblebee mimic each other, with similar warning coloration in combinations of black, white, red, and yellow, and all of them benefit from the relationship. [46]

Amensalism is an asymmetric interaction where one species is harmed or killed by the other, and one is unaffected by the other. [47] [48] There are two types of amensalism, competition and antagonism (or antibiosis). Competition is where a larger or stronger organism deprives a smaller or weaker one of a resource. Antagonism occurs when one organism is damaged or killed by another through a chemical secretion. An example of competition is a sapling growing under the shadow of a mature tree. The mature tree can rob the sapling of necessary sunlight and, if the mature tree is very large, it can take up rainwater and deplete soil nutrients. Throughout the process, the mature tree is unaffected by the sapling. Indeed, if the sapling dies, the mature tree gains nutrients from the decaying sapling. An example of antagonism is Juglans nigra (black walnut), secreting juglone, a substance which destroys many herbaceous plants within its root zone. [49]

Amensalism is often used to describe strongly asymmetrical competitive interactions, such as between the Spanish ibex and weevils of the genus Timarcha which feed upon the same type of shrub. Whilst the presence of the weevil has almost no influence on food availability, the presence of ibex has an enormous detrimental effect on weevil numbers, as they consume significant quantities of plant matter and incidentally ingest the weevils upon it. [50]

Cleaning symbiosis is an association between individuals of two species, where one (the cleaner) removes and eats parasites and other materials from the surface of the other (the client). [51] It is putatively mutually beneficial, but biologists have long debated whether it is mutual selfishness, or simply exploitative. Cleaning symbiosis is well known among marine fish, where some small species of cleaner fish, notably wrasses but also species in other genera, are specialised to feed almost exclusively by cleaning larger fish and other marine animals. [52]


What do you mean by symbiosis? A symbiosis definition suggests that it is a relationship where at least one species profits from the other. The relationship between the other species can be negative, positive, or neutral. Mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism are the three main categories of symbiosis.

Each symbiont, or community of organisms, have to be of a distinct species. Heinrich Anton de Bary described it in 1879 as "the coexistence of dissimilar species." A century-long controversy raged about whether the word should actually refer to mutualism, as in lichens. The restriction has now been lifted by biologists.

Symbiosis can be either obligatory (whenever one or even more symbionts are completely reliant on one another for sustainability) or facultative (when they can lead their life independently).

Physical attachment is another way to describe symbiosis. Conjunctive symbiosis occurs when symbionts create a single body, whereas disjunctive symbiosis occurs when symbionts form separate bodies. Ectosymbiosis occurs when one person lives on the body of another, including head lice over human beings endosymbiosis occurs when one partner resides within the tissues of someone else, for example, Symbiodinium inside the coral.

Physical Interaction

Symbiotic meaning: A symbiotic relationship wherein one symbiont resides inside the tissues of another, either intracellularly or extracellularly, is known as endosymbiosis.

Rhizobia, nitrogen-fixing bacteria which reside in root nodules along with legume roots actinomycetes, nitrogen-fixing bacteria like Frankia that exist in alder root nodules single-celled algae within reef-building corals and bacterial endosymbionts which provide vital nutrients of approximately 10%–15% of insects are all representatives of diverse microbiomes.

Any symbiotic relationship wherein the symbiont resides on the host's body surface, such as the internal layer of the digestive tract or the ducts of exocrine glands, is known as ectosymbiosis. Ectoparasites like lice, commensal ectosymbionts like barnacles that stick themselves to the jaws of baleen whales, and also mutualist ectosymbionts including cleaner fish are examples of this.

We now know what is meant by symbiosis, let us look at the types of symbiosis.

Types of Symbiosis

Types of symbiotic relationships:

Mutualism, also known as interspecies mutual altruism, is a long-term relationship amongst members of various species that benefits both parties. Mutualistic partnerships may be mandatory for both sexes, facultative for one but not the other (might be obligate for other), or facultative for both. Herbivores have quite a lot of mutualistic gut flora that support them in eating plant/organic material, that is harder to break down than animal prey. Throughout the intestines of herbivores, cellulose-digesting bacteria or protozoans make up the gut flora. Coral reefs are the product of a mutualistic relationship between coral species and the algae that reside within them. The majority of land and plant life and ecosystems depend on mutualism between plants and mycorrhizal fungi, which aid in the extraction of water and minerals from the earth.

The relationship between both the ocellaris clownfish and the tentacles of Ritteri sea anemones is an indicator of mutualism. The anemone is protected by the territorial fish against anemone-eating fish, and the anemone's stinging tentacles shield the clownfish against predators. The clownfish is protected from the stinging tentacles by a special mucus.

The host cell loses a few of the resources that the endosymbiont offers in endosymbiosis. As a consequence, the host encourages endosymbiont growth by developing specialised cells within itself. These cells modify the genetic makeup of the host in order to monitor the growing population of endosymbionts and guarantee which genetic changes are transmitted down the generations through vertical transmission (heredity).

Commensalism is a connection/relationship amongst two living beings in which one profit while the other is neither affected nor benefited significantly. It comes from the English term commensal, which refers to human social contact. It comes from the mediaeval Latin word com- (with) and mensa, which means "to share food."

Commensal relationships can include one organism needing another for transportation (phoresy) or accommodation (inquilinism), or one organism using something produced by another after it has died (metabiosis). Hermit crabs use gastropod shells to cover their bodies, and spiders weave webs on plants are examples of metabiosis.

The parasite profits whereas the host is injured in a parasitic relationship. Endoparasites which reside inside the host's body, ectoparasites and parasitic castrators which exist on the host's surface and micro predators like mosquitoes that visit regularly, are all examples of parasitism.

Symbiosis parasitism is a very effective form of living parasites make up approximately 40% of all species of animals, and the typical mammal hosts four nematodes, two cestodes, and two trematodes.

Mimicry is a kind of symbiosis where an organism pursues unique features of another species in order to change the dynamic of its connection with the mimicked organism for the sake of its benefit. Batesian and Müllerian mimicry are two forms of mimicry, the very first comprising one-sided manipulation and the other including mutual benefit. Batesian mimicry is a three-part exploitative interaction in which one animal, the mimic, has grown to imitate the other, the model, in order to manipulate a third, the dupe. The mimic and model has emerged to transmit a signal, while the dupe has grown to obtain it from the model, according to signalling theory.

Amensalism is an asymmetric relationship in which one species is damaged or destroyed by another while the other remains unaffected. Competition and antagonism are the two forms of amensalism. When a greater or stronger organism deprives a weaker or inferior one of a resource, this is known as a rivalry.

When one entity is injured or destroyed by another via a chemical secretion, this is known as antagonism. A sapling growing in the shade of a mature tree would be an instance of rivalry. The mature tree will deprive the sapling of essential sunlight, and when it is big enough, it will absorb rainwater and reduce nutrients of the soil. The mature tree is not affected by the sapling in the whole process.

When a sapling dies, the mature tree benefits from the dying sapling's nutrients. Juglans nigra (black walnut), which secretes juglone, a substance that kills most herbaceous plants inside its root zone, is indeed an illustration of antagonism.

Define Symbiotic Nutrition.

Define symbiotic nutrition: Symbiotic feeding refers to a relationship wherein species share their shelter and food. This reciprocal partnership may or may not be advantageous to both parties.

Cleaning Symbiosis

Cleaning symbiosis is a relationship between two animals in which one (the cleaner) eliminates and consumes parasites as well as a few more substances from another's surface (the client). While it seems to be mutually beneficial, biologists have extensively discussed whether this is reciprocal selfishness or merely exploitative behaviour.

What is the definition of symbiosis in biology?

Commensalism is a type of relationship where one of the organisms benefits greatly from the symbiosis. The other is not helped but is not harmed or damaged from the relationship. In other words, this is a one-sided symbiotic relationship. Example: The relationship between cattle egrets and cattle.

  • Mutualism: both partners benefit.
  • Commensalism: only one species benefits while the other is neither helped nor harmed.
  • Parasitism: One organism (the parasite) gains, while the other (the host) suffers.

Beside this, what is symbiosis short answer?

Symbiosis is the phenomenon by which two organisms maintain relationship with each other to be mutually benefitted. In symbiotic mode, organisms develop a special relationship with certain other organisms to obtain nourishment. Organisms involved in this type of relationship are called as symbionts.

What are 4 types of symbiosis?

1. Define symbiosis, commensalism, mutualism, and parasitism. 2. Give two examples of pairs of organisms that have these symbiotic relationships: commensalism, mutualism, and parasitism and explain the relationship.

Examples of Symbiosis

Corals and Zooxanthellae

Corals are made up of animals called corals polyps. Coral polyps have highly specialized obligate mutualistic symbiosis with photosynthesizing algae called zooxanthellae (pronounced “zoo-zan-THELL-ee”), which live inside the coral tissue. The zooxanthellae capture sunlight and convert it in to oxygen as well as energy, in the form of sugars and lipids that are transferred to the coral tissues and provide it with nutrients to survive and grow. In return, the zooxanthellae are provided with carbon dioxide, phosphorous and nitrogen as the by-product of the coral’s metabolic process. Although the corals cannot survive without any zooxanthellae, they can alter the amount within their tissues, by altering the amount of nutrients that the algae receive. However, if the temperature of the water becomes too high for an extended period of time, the corals undergo stress and expel all of their zooxanthellae and are not provided with enough nutrients to survive. This results in coral bleaching.

Cleaner Fish

Many fish become infected by ectoparasites, which are spawned in the water and attach to the skin and glands to feed off the host’s blood. Some highly specialized species of fish have evolved a facultative mutualistic symbiosis with many species of larger fish, whereby they remove the ectoparasites from the larger fish, providing a ‘cleaning’ service. An example is the Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus), tropical fish who wait at ‘cleaning stations’ that the larger fish visit in order to have their parasites removed. The cleaner fish perform a special ‘dance‘, which attracts the host fish, and advertises the cleaning service. Although the cleaner fish put themselves into apparent great danger by swimming inside the mouth cavities of even the most voracious predators, the service that they provide is so effective that they are very rarely harmed by the host fish and conduct repeated ‘customer’ visitations.


The Cordyceps fungus (family: Cordycipitaceae) is a particularly widespread and deadly fungal endoparasite of insects and other arthropods, which infects its host, replacing all of the host’s tissue with its mycelium. Eventually, the ascocarp, the fruiting body, erupts out of the host’s body and releases the reproductive spores. Most Cordyceps are specialized on a single host species. The ‘zombie fungus’, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis are specially adapted to parasitize the carpenter ant, Camponotus leonardi. The spores of the zombie fungus attach to the ant, and break into its tissues using enzymes the behavior of the ant is then manipulated by the fungus. The ant breaks away from its colony on the forest floor, climbs up the stem of a plant and lodges its mandibles unnaturally deep into a leaf. Once attached to the leaf, the ant becomes immobilized and the fungus starts to take over the tissues, preparing to reproduce via its fruiting body. The fungus is highly sophisticated, having elevated its host high up so that its spores can be dispersed further than if the host were on the ground.

Cell biology of the chloroplast symbiosis in sacoglossan sea slugs

Chloroplasts removed from their species of origin may survive for various periods and even photosynthesize in foreign cells. One of the best studied and impressively long, naturally occurring examples of chloroplast persistence, and function inside foreign cells are the algal chloroplasts taken up by specialized cells of certain sacoglossan sea slugs, a phenomenon called chloroplast symbiosis or kleptoplasty. Among sacoglossan species, kleptoplastic associations vary widely in length and function, with some animals immediately digesting chloroplasts, while others maintain functional plastids for over 10 months. Kleptoplasty is a complex process in long-term associations, and research on this topic has focused on a variety of aspects including plastid uptake and digestive physiology of the sea slugs, the longevity and maintenance of symbiotic associations, biochemical interactions between captured algal plastids and slug cells, and the role of horizontal gene transfers between the sea slug and algal food sources. Although the biochemistry underlying chloroplast symbiosis has been extensively examined in only a few slug species, it is obvious that the mechanisms vary from species to species. In this chapter, we examine those mechanisms from early discoveries to the most current research.

Coral Symbiosis and Spawning

The beautiful and biodiverse coral reef ecosystem is built upon the back of a symbiotic interaction between corals and photosynthetic algal symbionts. The symbionts produce food and stimulate growth of the coral skeleton, resulting in growth rates to support the hundreds of species that comprise coral reef ecosystems. My lab works on several aspects of coral biology and symbiosis, primarily using genomic, cellular, and bioinformatic approaches.

Microbial Metagenomics, Metatranscriptomics, and Metaproteomics

Anne Thompson , . Jonathan Zehr , in Methods in Enzymology , 2013


Symbioses between microbes are likely widespread and functionally relevant in diverse biological systems however, they are difficult to discover. Most microbes remain uncultivated, symbioses can be relatively rare or dynamic, and intercellular connections can be delicate. Thus, traditional methods such as microscopy are inadequate for efficient discovery and precise characterization of novel interactions, their metabolic basis, and the species involved. High-throughput metagenomic sequencing of entire microbial communities has revolutionized the field of microbial ecology however, genomic signals from symbionts can get buried in sequences from abundant organisms and evidence for direct links between microbial species cannot be gained from bulk samples. Thus, a specialized approach to the characterization of symbioses between naturally occurring microbes is required. This chapter presents methods for combining fluorescence-activated cell sorting to isolate and separate uncultivated symbionts with molecular biology techniques for DNA amplification in order to characterize uncultivated symbionts through genomic and metagenomic techniques.

Examples of symbiosis

As will be clearer through the examples, symbiosis relationships are very important in the environment , as they enable many species to survive. That is why we believe that symbiosis works as an enhancer of the evolution of these species, which manage to improve their way of life by establishing relationships with other organisms and species.

The examples are very numerous and varied. Next, we present some examples of symbiosis in ecology and biology so that, in this way, the importance that these types of relationship suppose for the survival of these organisms becomes clearer.

  • Ants and aphids: some species of ants, such as the black ant ( Lasius niger ), protect herds of aphids that in turn provide them with food and molasses, a sugary substance they produce rich in carbohydrates. In the main image of this article, we can see this same example.
  • Ants and acacias: other species of ants such as Pseudomyrmex ferruginea protect acacias from other parasites or herbivores. In return, the tree provides shelter and food.
  • Crocodiles and plovers: it is by all known the great power that the crocodiles possess in the jaws. These present no less than 80 teeth, which replace 2 or 3 times a year and the remains of food can cause serious problems such as infections. Thus arises the relationship with the Egyptian plovers. They obtain their food by cleaning the remains they find between the teeth of the crocodiles and these thus avoid oral problems allowing them to move inside their mouths.
  • Sharks and remoras: this is the clearest case of commensalism. Surely you have seen other sharks under the sharks. They adhere to the sharks and obtain from them protection and food from the remains of food that do not ingest them. For sharks, the presence of remora is practically indifferent.
  • Goby fish and blind prawn: the shrimp, despite its lack of vision, digs the burrow that keeps it clean and allows the fish to share so that it acts as their guide for the search for food and, in addition, warns of the dangers that they lurk through movements of its tail that create vibrations that the shrimp is capable of detecting, at which time both can hide in the burrow.
  • The clownfish and the anemone: these fish make their whole lives inside the anemones, which are very poisonous. They establish a mutualistic relationship in which the clownfish attracts other predatory fish that, when they come in contact with the anemone, are paralyzed and serve as food, the remains of which are used by the clownfish.
  • Lichens: are the symbiotic association between a fungus and algae. The fungus protects the algae from dehydration and provides a structure to grow on, and the algae make carbohydrates that the fungus can use as food. There is a great variety of lichens since they are very resistant and capable of colonizing very diverse environments.
  • Mycorrhizae: Mycorrhizae are fungi that establish symbiotic relationships with multiple plant species of vascular plants. How? The roots of these plants secrete useful substances for these fungi and these, in turn, make materials found in the soil as minerals and other materials in decomposition are more assimilable by plants.
  • Intestinal flora and microbiota: in our intestine, as in many other parts of our body, there is a large number of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in symbiosis with our cells and that are of great importance to our health to such an extent that variations in this microbiota can cause alterations in our body.

Now that you know well what is the symbiosis in ecology and biology and have seen several examples, you may also be interested in knowing with this other Green Ecology article the interspecific relationships: types and examples

Watch the video: Symbiosis: Mutualism. Twig Secondary (June 2022).


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