Examples of Symbiosis

August 23, 2000
From: Sutha

Hello Bill,

I am high school student from Malaysia. I would like to know more about symbiosis among species around us in more detail cause i have got a project to hand-over. Well i would like to know more about the process and example of those species.

Thank you.


Sutha, 2000 (Aug 23) Examples of Symbiosis. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/2911

Dear Sutha,
I'm afraid I can't discuss symbiosis in great detail but I can give you a few examples found amongst the sea slugs.

There are many examples in nature of two organisms living in close association with each other. Biologists have tried to give names to and define certain examples of 'living together' such as 'symbiosis' and 'mutualism' and 'parasitism' but it is often difficult to know where one type of association ends and another begins. It is probably better to think of these associations as part of a broad continuum ranging from free-living organism that depend on others for food, to two organisms that will not survive unless they are always together such as the algal and fungal components of lichens.

But before I get too complicated, there are a number of very good examples of what we generally call 'symbiosis' found amongst the opisthobranchs.

• Some herbivorous sacoglossan sea slugs, are able to keep the chloroplasts from the algae they eat alive and functional in their bodies, where they photosynthesise, producing sugars and other carbohydrates which the slugs can use for their own nutrition.
• Some aeolid nudibranchs feed on sea anemones and soft corals which have symbiotic one-celled plants [zooxanthellae] in their bodies. The aeolids 'steal' these zooxanthellae and keep them alive in their own bodies much like the sacoglossans.

If you have a look at the page on Solar Powered Sea Slugs you will find information on these animals and links to other pages with more information.

• If you look at the photos at the top of this page you will see two crustacea which are often found living on sea slugs.
• Have a look at the page on Gymnodoris nigricolor which lives with fishes of the Goby family, clinging on to, and apparently eaten their fins.

Also have a look at the messages below yours on this page. You will find more information and discussion on symbiosis there.

I hope this will help you,
Good luck with your project,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 2000 (Aug 23). Comment on Examples of Symbiosis by Sutha. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/2911

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