Definition of symbiosis in US English:



  • 1Interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.

    Compare with antibiosis
    • ‘The classical examples of symbiosis are the lichens, in which a fungus is associated with an alga or a cyanobacterium.’
    • ‘The establishment of symbiosis is the result of a complex series of interactions between the symbiont and the host plant.’
    • ‘An ancient, pure relative of these related symbioses of bacteria and yeasts is the tea-fungus called Kombucha.’
    • ‘Do parasitic and mutualistic symbioses differ in patterns of coevolution?’
    • ‘Unlike most other corals, they have no algae living in symbiosis with them, so they must absorb nutrients that pass on the current.’
    • ‘The products of many symbioses, and the effects of symbiosis on plant, animal and human hosts are of ecological, agricultural and medical importance.’
    • ‘Independent dispersal of algal and fungal cultures therefore can lead to a successful establishment of the lichen symbiosis even under harsh Antarctic conditions.’
    • ‘In that way the clownfish gets protection and attracts prey for the anemone, an example of symbiosis, or co-operation between different animals.’
    • ‘The significance of symbiosis is now recognized for its abundance, wide distribution, and fundamental importance in many ecological processes.’
    • ‘A less common example of symbiosis occurs when a hermit crab lives on another species.’
    • ‘Yet decades of efforts at bioengineering to extend the legume symbiosis to the roots of other crops have not yet shown promise. It is certainly no single-gene affair.’
    • ‘We see how plants and animals live together in symbiosis; as we breathe out carbon dioxide the plants take it and give us back oxygen.’
    • ‘It was this symbiosis between large herbivores and micro-organisms that sustained biological decay as well as adequate disturbance on a periodic basis.’
    • ‘In this NYT book review he discusses symbiosis in evolution, an oft neglected part of the whole evolutionary story.’
    • ‘The reason for this is that the rich soil (lots of varieties of microorganisms) as well as the rest of the ecosystem has evolved a fairly balanced symbiosis.’
    • ‘These associations therefore represent a valuable source for our general understanding of the dynamics and evolution of symbiosis.’
    • ‘The Gogo reef was a different kind of reef, no symbiosis between polyp and algae, more a community of sponges and sea mosses that formed hard skeletons.’
    • ‘The investigation of early events and molecules involved in fungal - plant interactions are crucial for a better understanding of symbiosis.’
    • ‘Although many of these symbioses are assumed to represent coevolved, mutually beneficial interactions, the ecological and evolutionary nature of many symbioses remain to be explored experimentally.’
    • ‘A remarkable part of this exquisite symbiosis is the way the squid keeps the bacterial culture fresh within its light organ.’
    1. 1.1 A mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups.
      ‘a perfect mother and daughter symbiosis’
      • ‘The fact of little transfer of words from one language to another does not mean there cannot have been long-term symbiosis of speakers of different languages.’
      • ‘Among American painters, few achieved more fully the impressionist symbiosis of public ambition and private life than Edmund C. Tarbell.’
      • ‘Importantly, not only did diplomacy possess considerable leverage at the end of armed conflicts, but negotiations also began rather early in wars and proceeded for years in symbiosis with military action.’
      • ‘As weblogs continue their symbiosis with the forms of media that went before, we will make ourselves targets of truly malevolent hoaxes if we simply decide to repeat what we agree with.’
      • ‘The visual communication between members bordered on symbiosis as they smoothly switched up guitars, worked pedals, bashed away at keyboards and wailed through guitar solos.’
      • ‘In a neat yin-yang symbiosis, the two main floors embody entirely different but complementary functions and design principles.’
      • ‘This concept of hardware symbiosis could teach the military a great deal.’
      • ‘It was a really interesting case of symbiosis between public interest and private initiative, and high-level bureaucrats soon rose to positions of great eminence in the planning of the war economy.’
      • ‘It is hard not to marvel at the peaceful symbiosis of two ancient religions, so different yet so similar.’
      • ‘They seek to take advantage of each other to solve their own problems in the process of competition, which brings about some odd long-term symbioses and temporary alliances.’
      • ‘A generic peasantry living in symbiosis with the land, trapped in unchanging landscapes, helped to convey this message.’
      • ‘What was the nature of the uneasy symbiosis between religious organizations and the local authorities?’
      • ‘Drasko Jovanovic points out the important symbiosis between particle physics and cosmology.’


Late 19th century: modern Latin, from Greek sumbiōsis ‘a living together’, from sumbioun ‘live together’, from sumbios ‘companion’.