Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Wikipedia.
symbiosis(sĭmbēō`sĭs), the habitual living together of organisms of different species. The term is usually restricted to a dependent relationship that is beneficial to both participants (also called mutualism) but may be extended to include parasitism, in which the parasiteparasite,
plant or animal that at some stage of its existence obtains its nourishment from another living organism called the host. Parasites may or may not harm the host, but they never benefit it.
..... Click the link for more information. depends upon and is injurious to its host; commensalism, an independent and mutually beneficial relationship; and helotism, a master-slave relationship found among social animals (e.g., the ant and the aphidaphid
or plant louse,
tiny, usually green, soft-bodied, pear-shaped insect injurious to vegetation. It is also called greenfly and blight. Aphids are mostly under 1-4 in. (6 mm) long.
..... Click the link for more information. ). True symbiosis is illustrated by the relationship of herbivorous animals (e.g., cockroaches, termites, cows, and rabbits) to the cellulose-digesting protozoans or bacteria that live in their intestines; neither organism could survive without the other. Other symbiotic relationships include the interdependence of the alga and the fungus that form a lichenlichen
, usually slow-growing organism of simple structure, composed of fungi (see Fungi) and photosynthetic green algae or cyanobacteria living together in a symbiotic relationship and resulting in a structure that resembles neither constituent.
..... Click the link for more information. and the relationship between leguminous plants and the nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which is important in agriculture (see nitrogen cyclenitrogen cycle,
the continuous flow of nitrogen through the biosphere by the processes of nitrogen fixation, ammonification (decay), nitrification, and denitrification. Nitrogen is vital to all living matter, both plant and animal; it is an essential constituent of amino acids,
..... Click the link for more information. ). Two obvious examples of a plant-to-animal relationship are yuccayucca
, any plant of the genus Yucca, stiff-leaved stemless or treelike succulents of the family Liliaceae (lily family), native chiefly to the tablelands of Mexico and the American Southwest but found also in the E United States and the West Indies.
..... Click the link for more information. and yucca moth, figfig,
name for members of the genus Ficus of the family Moraceae (mulberry family). This large genus contains some 800 species of widely varied tropical vines (some of which are epiphytic); shrubs; and trees, including the banyan, the peepul, or bo tree, and the
..... Click the link for more information. and fig wasp; in both cases the insect fertilizes the plant, and the plant supplies food for the larvae of the insect.
in the narrow sense, the living together of individuals of two species whereby both partners interact directly with the environment (Sh. D. Moshkovskii, 1946; V. A. Dogel’, 1947). The relationship with the environment is regulated by the joint activity of both organisms. In the broad sense, symbiosis refers to all forms of close association between organisms of different species, including parasitism, which is called antagonistic symbiosis.
Symbiosis is usually mutualistic, that is, living together is mutually beneficial for both organisms (symbionts). It arises in the course of evolution as a means of adaptation to the conditions of existence. Symbiosis may occur both in multicellular organisms and in individual cells (intracellular symbiosis). A symbiotic relationship may exist between plants and plants, plants and animals, animals and animals, plants and microorganisms, animals and microorganisms, and microorganisms and microorganisms.
The term “symbiosis” was introduced in 1879 by the German botanist H. A. De Bary, who applied it to lichens. An excellent example of symbiosis among plants is mycorrhiza, or the living together of mycelium of a fungus with the roots of a higher plant. The hyphae wind around the roots and enable them to absorb water and minerals from the soil; some orchids cannot live without mycorrhiza. One type of symbiosis between animals and plants is the living together of unicellular algae and certain animals, including protozoans, coelenterates (hydras, anthozoans), and turbellarians. It has been proved that unicellular algae that settle in the cells of anthozoans are vital for the normal growth and development of the latter.
Hermit crabs and actinians participate in a symbiotic relationship whereby the actinians settle on the shell in which the crab conceals its abdomen. The nematocysts of the actinian’s tentacles protect both symbionts, and the actinian feeds on the remains of the food caught by the crab. Symbiosis is very common between animals (including man) and microorganisms, for example, those constituting normal intestinal flora. In some insects cellulose is digested by enzymes secreted by yeast cells living in special depressions of the insect’s intestine. Symbiosis with nodule bacteria is important for legumes. There are many different forms of symbiosis between protozoans and certain prokaryotic organisms, including bacteria and rickettsias, which are usually localized in cytoplasm. Infusorians and bacteria inhabiting their nuclei may also be symbionts; some bacterial species are found only in the macronucleus, whereas others are found only in the micronucleus.
In the early 20th century the Russian scientists K. S. Mere-zhkovskii and A. S. Famintsyn advanced the theory that sy-biosis is a major factor in the progressive evolution of the organic world (symbiogenesis theory). For example, they regarded angiospermous chloroplasts as modified symbiotic algae. This concept, which for a time was forgotten, has currently been revived. Many contemporary scientists, including microbiologists and cytologists, link the origin of eucaryotic cells in evolution to symbiosis. Specifically, they consider mitochondria to be modified prokaryotic symbionts, emphasizing the resemblance between mitochondrial DNA and the DNA of a prokaryotic ring chromosome.
Symbiosis is slightly distinguished from other forms of close association, such as parasitism, commensalism, and predation, between which several transitional forms exist.
REFERENCESSkriabin, K. I. Simbioz iparazitizm v prirode. Petrograd, 1923.
Dogel’, V. A. Obshchaia parazitologiia. Leningrad, 1962.
Takhtadzhian, A. L. “Chetyre tsarstva organicheskogo mira.” Priroda, 1973, no. 2, pp. 22–32.
Caullery, M. Le Parasitisme et la symbiose, 2nd ed. Paris, 1950.
Buchner, P. Endosymbiose der Tiere mit pflanzlichen Mikroorganismen. Basel-Stuttgart, 1953.
Ball, G. H. “Organisms Living on and in Protozoa.” In Research in Protozoology, vol. 3. Edited by Tze-Tuan-Chen. Oxford-New York-Paris, 1969.
IU. I. POLIANSKM