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An introduction to symbiosis

General overview of symbiosis, where it's found and the variety of roles that symbionts play.

Mutually beneficial relationships can lead to something wonderful. The pivotal development of symbiosis between prokaryotic archaea and bacteria led to the creation of single-celled eukaryotes… cells that were more efficient at harvesting energy, and so could grow larger and more complex. Single celled eukaryotes could then specialise further and develop into multicellular plants and animals. Symbiosis is all around us and has played a major role in shaping the organisms of today.

In this video Rebecca Hall tells us something about the importance of symbiosis in biology.

Here are some questions to consider while you’re watching the video. We’d be happy to hear your views in the comments once you’ve watched the video

  • How do you think scientists might have figured out that mitochondria were once free-living bacteria?
  • If insects benefit by having gut symbionts provide them with metabolites, how might these microbes benefit in return?
  • Do you think there could be a cost to the host associated with having symbiont bacteria?
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The Biology of Bugs, Brains, and Beasts

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