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Mutualism is a type of symbiotic relationship in which both species involved are benefited from interaction. In mutualism, each species provides something of value to the other. This type of relationship is critical to the survival of one or both species and plays a role in shaping ecosystems and influencing evolution over time. Eg – Pollination, Lichens, Cleaner fish, Nitrogen-fixing bacteria, etc. These examples demonstrate that interrelationships are a common and important part of the natural world, highlighting the importance of symbiotic relationships in shaping ecosystems and influencing the evolution of species over time.

Common Examples of Correlations are:

  • Pollination: A classic example of mutuality is found in the relationship between flowering plants and pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Plants provide nectar and pollen as food sources for pollinators, while pollinators spread pollen from plant to plant, enabling plants to produce fruit and seeds.
  • Mycorrhiza: Interrelationship between fungi and plant roots. Fungi provide nutrients and water to plants, and plants provide carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis to fungi
  • Nitrogen Fixation: Interrelationships between Certain Bacterial Species and Plants. Bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen into forms that plants can use, and plants provide bacteria with carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis

Also Read: Nitrogen Fixation

Example of Mutualism 



A detailed example of interrelationships can be seen in the relationship-

Flowering Plants and Bees.

Pollinators move pollen from the male part of one flower to the female part of another plant. Bees are one of the most important pollinators because they can efficiently collect and transfer pollen from flower to flower.

Honey bees use flowering plants as food, collecting nectar and pollen to feed their larvae. Nectar provides the bees with energy, while pollen provides protein and other important nutrients. This interrelationship between flowering plants and bees is beneficial to both species. Due to this Flowering plants can reproduce by producing fruit and seeds, while bees can gather the food they need to survive and reproduce.

The relationship between flowering plants and bees is not always perfect, please. For example, certain types of flowering plants may not produce enough nectar to support large bee populations, or the plant may not produce nectar at the same time that bees need it. . Nevertheless, the interrelationship between flowering plants and bees is one of the best-known and best-studied examples of interrelationships in nature.

Types of Mutualism 

There are several types of mutualism, including:

Obligate Mutualism

Obligate mutualism refers to a kind of mutualistic relationship between two species in which the two species depend on each other for survival and cannot survive without the other. They evolve together in such a way that one species provides needed resources or services to the other or vice versa, creating a symbiotic relationship that benefits both partners. Examples of obligate mutualism include the gut microbes of many animals that help plants pollinate, digest, and absorb nutrients by insects and other animals.

Facultative Mutualism

Facultative mutualism refers to a type of mutualistic relationship between two species in which the interaction is beneficial but not essential for the survival of either species. While both species can survive without the other, they may choose to interact and engage in mutualistic behavior to obtain additional benefits. Facultative mutualism is often more opportunistic and less specialized than obligate mutualism, and the interactions may vary depending on environmental conditions or other factors. Examples of facultative mutualism include some species of ants that protect and care for aphids in exchange for honeydew, or birds that follow grazing mammals to feed on insects disturbed by their movement.

Defensive Mutualism

Defensive mutualism is a type of reciprocal relationship between two species in which one species provides protection or protection to the other in exchange for some benefit. In this type of interaction, one species may help the other species avoid predators or other threats by providing physical defenses, warning signals, or other defenses. Species that benefit from defense can provide other species with resources such as food or shelter. Examples of defensive mutualisms include scavenger fish that remove parasites and dead skin from larger fish, and acacia trees that provide food and shelter to ants in exchange for protection from herbivores.

Dispersive Mutualism 

Dispersion mutualism, also known as transport mutualism, is a type of mutualistic relationship where one species provides transportation for another species in exchange for a reward such as food or shelter. This type of interaction involves the dispersal or transport of seeds, spores, or other reproductive structures, as well as the transfer of pollen for pollination. The example you provided with honeybees and plants is a good example of dispersive mutualism, where the plants provide nectar to the bees as a reward for their pollination services, and the bees transport the pollen from one flower to another, facilitating cross-pollination and increasing the reproductive success of the plants. Other examples of dispersive mutualism include birds that eat fruit and disperse seeds in their feces, and ants that transport and plant seeds in their nests.

FAQs on Mutualism

Question 1: What is Mutualism?


Mutualism is a kind of symbiotic relationship in which both species involved benefit from their interaction.

Question 2: What is the Difference Between Mutualism and Parasitism?


In mutualism both species involved benefit from interaction, whereas in parasitism one species benefits at the expense of the other. receive.

Question 3: Can you Observe Interrelationships in Both Plants and Animals?


Yes, interrelationships are found in both plants and animals, such as insects, mammals, birds and even some micro-organisms.

Question 4: What are the Benefits of Mutualism for Both Species Involved?


Some benefits of reciprocity for both species involved include increased access to food, protection from predators, and improved reproductive performance.

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Last Updated : 23 Feb, 2023
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