What are some examples of symbiosis (biology)?

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ms-ahmed eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The world of biology has a variety of examples of mutually beneficial relationships in close proximity (symbiotic relationships).  Beginning with an example easy to remember due to "Finding Nemo" (:D)

  • a sea anemone and a clown fish: The anemone provides a safe home that many sea creatures shy away from.  The clown fish provides food (waste), and a personal maid service (keeping the anemone clean).
  • oxpeckers and zebras or black rhinos: oxpeckers get food and the mammals get pest relief, clean ears, and a security alarm (the birds fly up and scream a warning) - which is especially important to the black rhino as it has poor eyesight and relies on hearing instead.
  • humans and the bacteria within certain organs (e.g. intestines).  The bacteria gets its energy source and the human gets help with digestion.
  • Acacia ants and the swollen thorn acacia tree: the tree doesn't have the chemicals other acacias have to protect them from vines and hungry creatures.  The stinging ants gain a shelter among the acacia's thorns and delicious food especially good for their larvae.
thewanderlust878 | Student

Symbiosis is when two organisms from different species have a close relationship. It usually benefits one of the organisms, and sometimes both. It comes from the Greek words that mean "with" and "living". Some of the different types of symbiosis are as follows:


  • where one of the organisms benefits greatly from the relationship. The other is not helped nor harmed. This is called a one-sided symbiosis relationship. 
  • An example would be egrets perched atop cattle. The egrets eat the insects on the cattle, but the cattle do not gain or lose anything from the relationship. 


  • one organism benefits from the relationship at the expense of the other. 
  • An example would be fleas or mosquitoes who feed off of other organisms like dogs, cats, or sometimes even humans


  • A close relationship where both organisms benefit. Most of these relationships are long-lasting. 
  • An example of this would be humans and microorganisms, such as bacteria, that clean organs and keep humans healthy by eating "bad" bacteria and other things. The bacteria get fed and the humans are kept healthy

Endosymbiosis and Exousymbiosis

  • Endosymbiosis is when one species lives inside the other one. Exousymbiosis is when one species lives on the surface of the other species
  • An example of endosymbiosis would be protozoans that live inside termites that help them digest wood. An example of Exousymbiosis would be lice that feed on skin and blood of their host. 

Hope this helps!

rupkaur2001 | Student

Well symbiosis can be found in a lot of organisms.

  • Between leguminous plants and Rhizobium bacteria.

 In such plants these bacteria reside in the nodules of the root and "fix" the nitrogen. These plants absorb the soil nitrates which have been converted from the atmospheric nitrogen and thats why peas, groundnuts etc. are very nutritious.

  • In the ocean between shrimps/gobies and other organisms. Well, you know that every organism generates a lot of waste. So do the marine organisms.  These shrimps eat the dirt, excreta etc, of the fishes and keep the big blue clear.
  • In herbivorous animals' intestines also, bacteria Escherichia coli digests the cellulose
  • Ever wondered how those termites eat such a large amount of wood and digest it so easily? Well blame the protozoa living in their digestive tract. They help them in digesting the wood and woosh, all your furniture gone

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