What is symbiosis?

We explain what symbiosis is and the types of symbiosis that exist. In addition, examples and how symbiosis develops in psychology.

  1. What is symbiosis?

In biology , symbiosis is the way in which individuals of different species relate to each other, obtaining the benefit of at least one of the two .

Symbiosis can be established between animals , plants , microorganisms and fungi .

The concept symbiosis comes from the Greek and means “means of subsistence” . This word was coined by Anton de Bary and refers to the associations that are established between individuals in an ecosystem to compete or share resources of nature .

These relationships are indispensable for the survival of living beings , so they encourage the evolution of species .

The individuals that integrate symbiotic relationships are called “symbiotes . ” When one of the individuals has a much larger size than the other, they are called the smallest host and symbiote to the largest.

  1. Types of symbiosis

symbiosis - commensalism
In commensalism one individual is benefited while the other is not affected.

In nature, different types of biological relationships can be identified, such as:

  • If they consider the beneficiaries and disadvantaged within the symbiotic relationship, the following classifications are identified:
    • Mutualism . In this type of relationship both species benefit from the relationship they establish.
    • Parasitism . In this kind of symbiosis one of the individuals is benefited from the relationship they establish, while the other is harmed.
    • Commensalism . In this relationship, one of the individuals is benefited while the other is not affected for better or worse. Within commensalism there are the following types:
      • Carrion. An individual feeds on the waste of other species.
      • Foresis One species uses another to protect itself or as a means of locomotion.
  • If the spatial link established between individuals is considered, the following variants can be identified:
    • Ectosymbiosis The symbiote is established on the host’s body.
    • Tenancy An individual stays inside another to get shelter.
    • Endosymbiosis The symbiote resides inside the host cells or in the spaces that remain between them.
    • Metabiosis An individual is benefited by the physical remains of another and uses them as a tool.
  1. Symbiosis Examples

Carrion animals feed on the remains of living things.

Nature is full of cases in which symbiotic relationships are established between different species and individuals, for example:

  • When an algae and a fungus come together, they form lichen, a new structure that acquires much greater resistance and helps them colonize larger territories (mutualism).
  • There are birds that establish a link with birds of other species when they leave their eggs in their nest to be raised as if they were their own (parasitism).
  • When hermit crabs are linked to certain sea anemones, the crab protects itself with the tentacles of the anemone and it uses crab movements to feed more easily (mutualism).
  • Carrion animals feed on the remains of living beings, generally hunted by other species (commensalism).
  • The birds make their nests and use the tree branches to build their homes without causing any damage (commensalism).
  • Mosquitoes maintain a relationship with humans and animals by drawing their blood. In many cases, these insects are carriers of diseases and infect those who bite (parasitism).
  • When bees feed on the nectar of flowers, they not only feed but also become pollinating agents (mutualism).
  • Crustaceans feed on ectoparasites that are located between the scales and the leather of the fish, and that, at the same time, performs a cleaning task on the scales (mutualism).
  • The remoras are related to the sharks to be transported, without harming them in any way (commensalism).
  • Flies leave their eggs on the skin or inside the body of other species and, when the larvae hatch, they feed on the tissue in which they were housed (parasitism).
  • Plants and worms enter into a relationship when the latter move through the earth, creating channels that make it easier for the roots of plants to absorb water (commensalism).
  • When certain intestinal parasites lodge and reproduce in the intestines of some living being, negatively affecting their digestion, while taking advantage of the organism (parasitism).
  1. Symbiosis in psychology

In the field of psychology , the concept of symbiosis is also used to refer to relationships in which individuals behave as if they were a single person .

It is very common to talk about “symbiotic relationships” in reference to certain couples in which at least one of them suffers and fails to generate autonomy, which can lead to some type of pathology.

Establishing symbiotic relationships can make it difficult for each individual to grow personally .

One of the roots of symbiotic relationships may be the fear of freedom , which can lead individuals to do everything as a couple and stop being alone with other people .

Given this type of relationship, a tip that specialists give is that each of its members make an effort to do things alone, such as going for a walk. In addition, it is very important to work on overcoming fears to regain autonomy.

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