Symbiotic Relationship – Key to Survival
Symbiotic relationship or symbiosis as it is now referred to, is an interaction between organisms living together. A symbiotic relationship can be differentiated by how organisms interact and can be classified in categories. These categories are parasitism, mutualism, commensalism, amensalism, neutralism, and competition.
Parasitism is a symbiotic relationship in which one organism benefits from the relationship while the other is harmed. A common example of this type of interaction is the relationship of a flea and a dog. The flea is the parasite that benefits from the relationship while the dog is at a disadvantage.
Mutualism is a symbiotic relationship in which both organisms benefit from the relationship. An example of this would be the relationship between the clownfish and sea anemones. The clownfish is a territorial fish that proves as an advantage to the anemone because it can be protected from fish that consume anemone. While the anemone serves as protection for the small clownfish from predators because of the stinging tentacles it has.
Commensalism is a symbiotic relationship in which one organism benefits while the other is neither harmed nor benefits from the relationship. An example of this would be an orchid growing on a tree.
Amensalism is slightly the opposite of commensalism, in which one organism is at a disadvantage while one is neither harmed nor benefits from the interaction. The micro organism Penicillium is an example of an organism that exhibits amensalism. Penicillium naturally produces the antibiotic penicillin which kills bacteria.
Neutralism describes the relationship, or lack thereof, between two organisms. This is the symbiotic relationship defined as not having any effect on either organism involved. This type of relationship is used when the population density of one species does not have any effect on another. This is almost impossible to prove because it is extremely unlikely to occur in nature.
Finally, competition is the symbiotic relationship defined as one that creates a disadvantage for both organisms involved. An example of this would be aggression exhibited over territory. Territorial animals would turn physical against any form of threat to their territory. Another form of competition can come indirectly as when one species consumes the same food of another species which in turn would mean less food supply for both populations.
Whichever symbiotic relationship an organism is involved in, whether it is an advantage, a disadvantage or neither, it is all key to survival. One cannot thrive alone and at one point in time, would need to be a parasite against another, work with another or compete with another.