Symbiosis comes from two Greek words that mean “with” and “living.” It describes a close relationship between two organisms from different species. It is sometimes, but not always, beneficial to both parties.
There are several kinds of symbiosis to consider when looking for examples of symbiosis:
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.
In some of these commensalism relationships, the organism that is reaping the benefit will use the other for protection or transportation.
In parasitism, one organism benefits from the relationship but at the expense of the other. The organism may live inside the other’s body or on its surface. In some of these parasitic relationships the host dies and in others, it is important that the host remain alive.
- In this type of parasitic relationship, the host needs to stay alive and it is not damaged greatly.
- The whale is not harmed greatly, but may have some pain or itching.
- Tapeworms do more damage to their hosts because they eat partially digested food and that deprives the host of some food and nourishment.
- Aphids eat sap from plants.
Mutualism is a close relationship where both parties benefit. Both species will benefit from the relationship and many of these relationships are ling-lasting.
- In the ocean, certain species, like shrimps and gobies, will clean fish. They remove parasites, dead tissue, and mucous.
- The dogs supply protection and companionship and the humans provide food and shelter.
- The shrimp digs a burrow into the sand and both organisms live there. Because the shrimp is almost blind, the goby fish will touch the shrimp when a predator is near.
- Humans have a mutualistic relationship with microorganisms, primarily bacteria, in their digestive tract.
Endosymbiosis is one species living inside another one.
Ectosymbiosis is one species living on the surface of the other species.