From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- This article is about the biological phenomenon, for other uses see Symbiosis (disambiguation)
The term symbiosis (from the Greek: σύν syn "with"; and βίωσις biosis "living") commonly describes close and often long-term interactions between different biological species. The term was first used in 1879 by the German mycologist Heinrich Anton de Bary, who defined it as "the living together of unlike organisms."
The definition of symbiosis is in flux, and the term has been applied to a wide range of biological interactions. The symbiotic relationship may be categorized as being mutualistic, parasitic, orcommensal in nature. Others define it more narrowly, as only those relationships from which both organisms benefit, in which case it would be synonymous with mutualism.
Symbiotic relationships include those associations in which one organism lives on another (ectosymbiosis, such as mistletoe), or where one partner lives inside the other (endosymbiosis, such as lactobacilli and other bacteria in humans or zooxanthelles in corals). Symbiotic relationships may be either obligate, i.e., necessary for the survival of at least one of the organisms involved, or facultative, where the relationship is beneficial but not essential for survival of the organisms.