Symbiosis Examples


The close interactions between two or more species that are usually beneficial to both is called symbiosis. Symbiotic relationships are essential to many organisms and ecosystems providing a balance within their environments. The two species in a symbiotic relationship live together and benefit each specie in some way. However, there are a couple of types of symbiosis that are not beneficial to both species and may actually harm one of the species.

Mutualism is when both species benefit from the interaction, and commensalism is when one species benefits and the other gains or loses nothing. There are a wide variety of both relationships in nature. Amensalism is a type of symbiosis where one organism is harmed and the other is unaffected, and parasitism, which takes place when one organism benefits and the other is harmed. Symbiosis may include nutritional needs, transportation assistance, structure, cleaning, protection, and other benefits.

Examples of Symbiosis:

1. Toxoplasma

It is a parasitic protist that may infect a range of animals including mice, rats, and people. To reproduce sexually, the protist must infect a cat. The cat is not directly affected, but when a mouse is infected it brings harm. Mice infected with toxoplasma lose their fear of cats, which of course may bring them in close contact with a predator.

2. Microbes

Microbes are important for human health. For example, human breast milk contains oligosaccharides, which are short chains of sugar molecules. There is no nutritional value to babies, but the microbes are important for developing a baby's immune system.

3. Cattle and Egrets

Cattle do not benefit but are unaffected as egrets eat the insects that have been disturbed as the cattle forage for food.

4. Parasitism

Fleas and mosquitoes feed on the blood of other organisms. In the case of a mosquito, it may be harmful to the other organism. Fleas become harmful, for example, to a dog or cat when they act as the host for them.

5. Mutualism

Cleaning symbiosis takes place in the ocean when shrimp and gobies clean fish, receiving nutrients as they remove parasites, dead tissue, and mucous from the hosts.

6. Pets

Dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals live together in symbiotic relationships, with both benefitting with their interactions with the humans.

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