List of symbiotic relationships

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This is an incomplete list of notable mutualistic symbiotic relationships, in which different species have a cooperative or mutually dependent relationship. This relationship can be endosymbiotic, whereby an organism resides in another's body or cells.

There are three types of symbiosis: mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism. Mutualism is symbiosis in which both organisms benefit. Commensalism is symbiosis in which one organism benefits and the other is not harmed or helped. Parasitism is symbiosis in which one organism benefits and the other is harmed to their death.

Some of these relationships are so close that we speak of the composite of two species as one unit; for example, we speak of the composite of algae and fungi as lichens. This is analogous to our speaking of a modulator and a demodulator as a modem.

Endosymbiotic relationships[edit]

Symbiosis by luci Endosymbiont Role of endosymbiont Role of host
Euprymna scolopes (Mollusca) Vibrio fischeri Counter-illumination via bioluminescence[1] Reproduction
Legumes Rhizobia Fixed nitrogen Photosynthesis (principally as the dicarboxylic acids malate and succinate)
Actinorhizal plants Frankia bacteria Fixed nitrogen Photosynthesis (principally as the dicarboxylic acids malate and succinate)
Anglerfish Bioluminescent bacteria Bioluminescent lure for prey capture Protection
Vascular plants mycorrhizae Sequestering of phosphate ions from soil, disease protection Photosynthates
Parasitoid wasps Polydnavirus Immune suppression of parasite host Propagation of the virus
Poaceae Endophytic fungi Disease prevention, Drought tolerance[2] Photosynthates

Autotrophic endosymbioses[edit]

Host Endosymbiont Role of endosymbiont Role of host
Coral (Cnidaria), other invertebrates Zoochlorellae (green algae), zooxanthellae (“non-green” algae, typically dinoflagellates, cryptomonads, chrysomonads or diatoms) Photosynthates Protection, inorganic nutrients
Foraminifera, ciliates (protists) Variety of algae Photosynthates Locomotion, protection, inorganic nutrients
Sponges (Porifera) Variety of algae (Often green-algae) Photosynthates Protection, inorganic nutrients
Hydra viridis (Cnidaria) Chlorella Photosynthates[3] Inorganic nutrients
Elysia viridis (Mollusca) Codium fragile Photosynthates[4] Locomotion, protection, inorganic nutrients
Convoluta roscoffensis (Platyhelminthes, traditionally) Tetraselmis convolutae Locomotion, protection, inorganic nutrients
Pompeii worm, Alvinella pompejana (Annelida) Thermophilic chemoautotrophic bacteria Insulation, chemosynthates Locomotion, inorganic nutrients
Mole salamanders Oophila Oxygen (from photosynthesis) Carbon dioxide (from respiration)
Riftia pachyptila (Annelida) Bacteria
Solemya velum (Mollusca) Sulfur-oxidizing chemoautotrophic bacteria[5]
Orphium frutescens Xylocopa violacea (Female Carpenter Bee) nutrients for larvae Locomotion of Reproduction

Digestive endosymbioses[edit]

Other symbiotic relationships[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Young, R.E. & C.F. Roper 1976. Bioluminescent countershading in midwater animals: evidence from living squid. Science 191(4231): 1046–1048.1251214
  2. ^
  3. ^ Matthias Habetha et al. The Hydra viridis / Chlorella symbiosis.
  4. ^ R.K. Trench, J.E. Boyle and D.C. Smith (1973). "The Association between Chloroplasts of Codium fragile and the Mollusc Elysia viridis. I. Characteristics of isolated Codium chloroplasts". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 184 (1074): 51–61. doi:10.1098/rspb.1973.0030.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Douglas, A E (1998). "Nutritional interactions in insect-microbial symbioses: Aphids and their symbiotic bacteria Buchnera". Annual Review of Entomology 43: 17–38. doi:10.1146/annurev.ento.43.1.17. PMID 15012383. ISSN 00664170. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Brock DA, Douglas TE, Queller DC, Strassmann JE (20 January 2011 2011). "Primitive agriculture in a social amoeba". Nature 469 (7330): 393–396. doi:10.1038/nature09668. PMID 21248849.