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Symbiosis is not altruistic[edit]

I think it should be noted somewhere that symbiosis is not altruistic. The organisms in symbiosis may benefit from each other but it is purely out of a need to survive and not from a desire to help the other. Cleaner fish consume parasites off of sharks but do not do this to benefit the shark but simply as a source of food. And likewise, a shark doesn't allow a cleaner fish to get close enough simply so the fish can have a meal. It allows the fish to do this so that the shark itself can be free of parasites. There are many other examples that can be given.

Also, I think in the amensalism section of the article, it should be stated that there are two types of amensalism: competition and antibiosis. In competition, one organism excludes another from a resource. In antibiosis, one organism secretes a chemical killing the other while the one that secreted the chemical is unaffected.

Lastly, the examples for commensalism could be better. For example, epiphytes growing on a woody plant. The epiphyte uses the woody plant as support and for access to sunlight. The woody plant is unaffected by this. Sumner.44 (talk) 21:42, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

Artificial Symbiosis[edit]

How can artificial symbiosis be mutually beneficial? Can the artifact benefit? This doesn't make sense to me. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 19:03, 23 March 2007 (UTC).

An example would be a conservatory. In this case, the human organizer of symbiotic and competitive relationships gets money, excercise, and if they're any good, recognition and sex. 05:34, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

-->Sorry I had to write , could not find how to open up a new topic. I am writing a essay about bacteria symbiosis and are currently reading through some articles concerning symbiosis. On this page it says that the therm symbiosis was first used by Anton de Bary in 1879, but the term symbiotismus was first introduced in 1877 by A. B. Frank. If someone want to change this or investigate, use this article and look in the references:

Rai, A. N., E. Soderback, et al. (2000). "Tansley Review No. 116. Cyanobacterium-Plant Symbioses." New Phytologist 147(3): 449-481.

May 6 2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:15, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

there's a surprisingly high amount of vandalism here[edit]

despite them being all very quickly reverted edits, the frequency here is oddly high, or at least i think so. Perhaps an admin should block it from being edited by new/unregistered users? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Pfzngn (talkcontribs) 01:28, 30 March 2007 (UTC). Agreed! I took


The definition given at the top of the article doesn't really incorporate neutralism. It says something like, at least one organism must benefit or suffer; in neutralism neither organism does.

I was just wondering about that one myself. I think the definition requires more than proximity. 05:47, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

"There is no single universally agreed upon definition of symbiosis. Some define symbiosis in the sense that De Bary intended, describing a close relationship between organisms in which the outcome for each is highly dependent upon the other. The relationship may be categorized as mutualism, parasitism, commensalism, or any biological interaction in which at least one organism benefits. Others define it more narrowly, as only those relationships from which both organisms benefit, in which case it would be synonymous with mutualism."

^that is definately not neutral Drrake 16:32, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

The discussion you're replying to, apart from being months old and in reference to a long gone version of the article, refers to neutralism not neutrality. Even were that not the case, your comment still wouldn't make any sense. There are no neutrality problems with the lead; in the context of describing the differing definitions of a technical term, narrow is a perfectly neutral antonym of broad. Neither term implies a value judgement on the correctness of either definition. – ornis 04:42, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

I have to challenge the neutrality of this article on a minor scale...[edit]

Right at the end of the entire article it states that ""Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking." As in humans, organisms that cooperate with others of their own or different species often out-compete those that do not." This is not necessarily true, take Emily Dickinson for example. She lived a very secluded and introverted life, yet she is regarded as one of America's greatest poets of the 19th century. Sure, that's a while back, but it doesn't change the fact that she 'didn't co-operate with others' and was still very successful.

Thankyou, that is all. 11:45, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

That bit added at the end about Margulis's work is a bit dubious-- that is, her work may be important, but the explanation of it sets up Darwin's theory as a straw man which Margulis benefits by demolishing. Darwin proposed that evolution progressed by natural selection, and organisms best adapted to their environments are those that thrive. There's no absolute requirement that an adaptation translate DIRECTLY into a competitive advantage. (But, of course, a parasite/symbiont that chooses a successful partner is more likely to succeed than one that doesn't.) In any case, there's been more than a hundred years of research into evolution since Darwin, so it's not surprising that thousands of scientists working together (or in competition?) have managed to refine his theory. 14:21, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Incorrect Description?[edit]

"The living together in permanent or prolonged close association of members of usually two different species, with beneficial or deleterious consequences for at least one of the parties." Surely a Symbiotic relationship is beneficial to both parties, not just one, or its parasitic? [1]

hi guys, i rewrote the intro to emphasise the use of the word symbiosis, and[edit]

point out its importance in the living world. Added a good general reference, and cleaned some stuff up.

i removed that artificial symbiosis thing. the sentence didn't make sense, and i've never heard of it. a reference would be useful.

what do you think?

the examples seem rather arbitrary, that's why i added my 4 in the intro. these seemed the most important and pervasive ones. the examples in th body are fun. perhaps we can have specific examples of each VARIETY of symbiosis described in the varieties section.

perhaps i'll consider adding more. Wikiskimmer 10:10, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

Not bad, just needs a quick run-through of the various types of commensalism (amensalism etc). Richard001 07:27, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Varieties Of Symbioses[edit]

First, thanks ConfuciousO for all the work on this article.

Do we need the Symbiosis#Varieties of Symbiosis section. There's not much detail there that isn't in the article in other places. Mutualism and such have their own sections and are also mentioned in the intro. Maybe create little sections about endo/ecto-symbiosis that summarize and link to those articles and drop this section? Jmeppley 14:04, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Well yeah, I was planning on nuking that section once I'd finished filling out the subsections. I just left it there so I wasn't leaving the reader with nothing. I think ther should be a section on ecto-endo symbiosis, maybe another on obligate and facultative relationships, and perhaps a subsection to evo on endosymbiotic theory. Once that's done, it's just a matter of providing a few more examples and making sure everything is properly cited.  –  ornis 14:10, 5 October 2007 (UTC)


"Endosymbiosis, is any symbiotic relationship in which the symbiont lives within the tissues of the host."

"The term Mutualism, describes any relationship between individuals of different species where both individuals derive a fitness benefit."

English isn't my native speech, so I would like to ask, if commas after words "endosimbiosis" and "mutualism" are really needed (in my language they wouldn't be needed). I'm going to work with this text, so I'd like to fix it before printing if it's a mistake.

Vikte 15:20, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

The commas are not needed and are incorrect. Hardyplants 20:44, 14 November 2007 (UTC)


I've read through all the articles cited under the objection section which state that symbiosis is used as an arguement against evolution. Could someone link the correct articles or remove this section?

Definitions Revisited[edit]

If "Mutualism is a biological interaction between individuals of two different species, where both individuals derive a fitness benefit", and "symbiotic" is a sub-classification within "mutualism", how can "parasitic" be a sub-classification within symbiosis, as written on the Wikipedia "Symbiosis" page? Commensalism is also listed as a type of symbiosis on the "Symbiosis" page, being defined as "a kind of relationship between two organisms where one benefits and the other is not significantly harmed or helped". If these other definitions are correct, then the definition of "mutualism" must be incorrect.

Are there, in fact, no universally accepted definitions? Is this a matter of different schools of biology having their own definitions? Can a coherent set of working definitions not be formulated?

[This note has been added to both the "Mutualism" and "Symbiosis" Talk pages.] Heavenlyblue (talk) 23:55, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

Response: "Symbiosis" as originally defined in the 19th Century by Anton de Bary refers to any close association by two or more species, regardless of the outcome of the association for those species. Therefore symbiosis can be mutualistic (for example lichens, anemonefish-anemone interactions, fig pollination, etc.), commensalistic, parasitic (most parasitic relationships are symbiotic in the sense that the parasite can only exist in or on the host)or wholly neutral. However, in the 20th century, "symbiosis" came to be used exclusively for what should really be termed "mutualistic symbiosis". Biologists are now divided on the issue; some (myself included) believe that we should refer to symbiotic relationships using the original definition (symbiosis simply refers to "living with" and says nothing about the outcome of that living together). Other biologists happily go along with the change in definition. I think they're wrong, but hey ho, there's no pleasing everyone all of the time! In that sense, therefore, there's not a "universally accepted definition". Hope that's clarified the issue? Speakingofcities (talk) 10:04, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

Symbiote / Symbiont[edit]

The article still uses the word "symbiote". The "Hard SF" author Hal Clement, in the foreword to "Through the Eye of the Needle" (ISBN 0-345-25850-9), apologises for using the word "symbiote" in the previous book "Needle" and promises to use the correct word "symbiont" in future. Interestingly, he also comments that his mistake seems to have propagated, and the effect of his correction, if any, will possibly be of interest to those who study social phenomena. That would be about us, I guess. (talk) 20:37, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing that out, I've changed the only use of symbiote to symbiont. Smartse (talk) 02:03, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Commensalism vs. Parasitism[edit]

There seems to be an error under parasitism. The definition states that a parasite benefits at the expense of the host, but the example of the remora and the shark is commensalism, the remora benefits but the shark is unharmed. (talk) 04:26, 12 October 2009 (UTC)


I came looking for information on holobionts, which are the sum of the creatures of symbiosis. Maybe it could be a subsection or a new article someday. --Trakon (talk) 17:53, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Would that be a species that evolved as a result of symbiosis, or would it as you say be the 'sum' which I would take to mean something along the lines of 'fusion' which sounds more like endosymbiosis <- this is already covered.1812ahill (talk) 17:43, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Mistletoes are endoparasites[edit]

in the intro, mistletoes are used as an example for ectosymbiosis. This is incorrect. Mistletoes are generally considered parasites or hemiparasites by those who work with them. Certain genera (Arceuthobium in particular) are known to cause serious growth reductions and mortality in their hosts. Other genera derive their water and mineral requirements from their hosts, in some cases causing severe growth reductions and mortality- particularly in drought stressed hosts. Hundreds of peer reviewed publications support these statements. See articles in forestry journals by Hawksworth, Wiens, Mathiasen, Geils among many others. An alternative good example of ectosymbiosis in the plant world would be epiphites. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Patho11 (talkcontribs) 02:25, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

chemoautotrophic symbionts[edit]

Usually found in the gills of snails on the ocean floor near black smokers, chemoautotrophic symbionts oxidize minerals, allowing animals to survive in oxygen poor waters. True or false? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:03, 4 October 2010 (UTC)


The references are quite poor - just the author's name and year. I would like to see some titles in there. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nelsnelson (talkcontribs) 11:15, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

Humans and various animal species[edit]

I'm somewhat surprised that this article lacks mention of the symbiotic relationship between humans and various animal species. We should work to include at least a small section on this aspect.   — C M B J   05:07, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Inaccurate Header[edit]

The header/subtitle of the article defines mutualism, not symbiosis. As noted in the article, by consensus symbiosis now refers to parasitic or commensalistic or mutualistic relationships- not just the latter. Schissel | Sound the Note! 01:54, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^ or commensal