what is symbiosis

Symbiosis is a concept of biology which refers to the type of association established between two individuals, whether animal or vegetable, and from which at least one of them benefits. As such, the word is made up of the Greek roots σύν (sýn) ‘with’, and βίωσις (biosis), ‘subsistence means’.

In this sense, the symbiosis is a relationship between two symbiotesdenomination that is applied to the organisms involved in this type of link.

The symbiosis can be of various types: mandatorywhen it is essential for the survival of one or both species, or optional, when, despite not ceasing to be beneficial, it is not essential for survival. In addition, its duration can vary and be both permanent What temporary.

Its classification varies depending on the place where the symbiosis occurs: ectosymbiosiswhen one of the individuals lives on another, or endosymbiosiswhen one of the species lives inside the other.

Examples of symbiosis

A classic example of symbiosis necessary are lichens, formed by the union of a fungus and a unicellular algae, and which are found on rocks or in the bark of trees.

Another example is microrrhizae, which are the symbiosis between the roots of certain plants and certain fungi, since the roots benefit from the nutrient absorption capacity of the fungi, and the fungi obtain from the plant the substances it needs to live.

A kind of symbiosis interesting is the one between a bull, for example, and the bacteria and protozoa that live in its stomach. The latter provide the bull with the ability to digest the cellulose that the grasses it feeds on have, at the same time that bacteria and protozoa feed on them. The HumansIn this sense, we have in our intestinal flora organisms that do a similar job with which we live in symbiosis.

types of symbiosis

Now the symbiosis They are classified according to the type of relationship that the symbiotes have established with each other. The main ones are:

  • Mutualism: the two symbiotes benefit each other. For example, lichens.
  • Commensalism: one of the symbionts benefits, while the other, neither benefiting nor being harmed, is indifferent to the symbiosis. For example, spiders that live on a plant where they have woven their web.
  • Parasitism: one organism benefits at the expense of the other. It’s a detrimental type of relationship for one of the symbiotes. For example: ticks.
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See also: Protozoan and Ecology