Welcome to the Symbiology Wiki!


While there is often disagreement about the nature of symbiotic interactions and duration of interactions among symbionts, most agree that symbiosis is an interspecific interaction that involves interspecific genetic interactions and production of novel metabolic capabilities.

And types of symbiotic associations may include:

  • Mutualism - a symbiosis in which both involved organisms benefit
  • Commensalism - a symbiosis in which one involved organism benefits and the other is unaffected
  • Parasitism - a symbiosis in which one involved organism benefits and the other is harmed

Relevant Terminology:

  • Symbiont - an organism that participates in a symbiotic association
  • Endosymbiont - one that resides inside (within the host cell of) a host organism
  • Ectosymbiont - one that resides outside a host organism
  • Holosymbiont - the whole symbiotic system
  • Obligate - the symbionts are so highly adapted to a symbiotic existance that they cannot live outside it
  • Facultative - the symbionts can also live in the free-living condition

Relevant Concepts:

  • Specificity
  • Persistence
  • Vertical/Horizontal Transmission


Did you know that....?

· Wolbachia, until the early 1990’s considered to be members of a rare and inconsequential bacteria genus, is now estimated to infect >65% of insect species (at least 106 insect species), making it among the most abundant intracellular bacteria genus so far discovered! (J. Werren et al. Nature Reviews Microbiology 6, 741-751 October 2008.)

· Children of the world would never have known of Peter Rabbit, if Beatrix Potter’s insights into Lichen structure had not been accepted by the scientific community in the late 1890’s. Within a few decades, her ideas were accepted and she was eventually honored in 1997 by the Linnaean Society.

·Any person is about 10% symbiotic organisms by weight (Acquiring Genomes, Marguilis and Sagan, 2003.)

· The coral reefs form the largest biological structures on Earth. And the largest coral structure in the world is the Great Coral Barrier off the shore of northeastern Australia (parallel to the Queensland's shore), located in the Coral Sea: it is 2,010 km (1,200 mi) long and 2 to 150 km (1.2-92 mi) wide, which would cover the surface of Norway. (Stefan Anitei, Science Editor, Softpedia, SoftNews NET SRL).
· All the bacteria living inside you would fill a half-gallon jug; there are 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than human cells. (Carolyn Bohach, a microbiologist at the University of Idaho. Sci. Amer. 2007).