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Introduction to Parasitology. Definitions and Concepts. Basic Definitions. Symbiosis Term was first coined by the German de Bary in 1879 to mean “living together.”

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introduction to parasitology

Introduction to Parasitology

Definitions and Concepts

basic definitions
Basic Definitions
  • Symbiosis
  • Term was first coined by the German de Bary in 1879 to mean “living together.”
  • It was originally coined to refer to all cases where dissimilar organisms or species (e.g., heterogenetic associations) live together in an intimate association.
types of symbiotic associations
Types of Symbiotic Associations
  • Phoresis, commensalism, mutualism, and parasitism
  • If we consider the degree of the association, then phoresis and commensalism represent “loose” associations, where as mutualism and parasitism indicate “intimate” associations

1 .Phoresis (Phoresy)

  • Phoresis means “to carry.”
  • A type of symbiotic relationship in which one organism (the smaller phoront) is mechanically carried on or in another species (host).

2. Commensalism

  • Means “eating at the same table”
  • Occurs when one member of the associating pair, usually the smaller, receives all the benefit and the other member is neither benefited nor harmed

Branchiobdelid worm attached to a crayfish


3. Mutualism

  • Occurs when each member of the association benefits the other
  • Mutuals are metabolically dependent on one another; one cannot survive in the absence of the other
  • Often included as a special subcategory of mutualism is cleaning symbiosis
    • In this relationship, certain animals known as cleaners, remove ectoparasites, bacteria, diseased and injured tissue from cooperating hosts

Honeybee bringing pollen to a desert shrub


4. Parasitism

  • Parasitos (para: beside; sitos: grain or food)
  • Definitions of parasitism have traditionally focused upon some ecological aspect of the parasite-host interaction

Anterior end of a hookworm

metabolic dependency feeding mode
Metabolic Dependency (=Feeding Mode )
  • According to this perspective, parasites were “all those creatures which find their nourishment and habitat on other living organisms without destroying it (the host) as predators do their prey”
  • Parasitism is an intimate and obligatory relationship between two organisms during which time one organism (the parasite) is metabolically dependent on the host.
    • Developmental Stimuli
    • Nutritional Dependence
    • Digestive Enzymes
    • Control of Maturation
habitat preference
Habitat Preference
  • Some researchers have stressed that parasites are distinguished from free living organisms by their habitat preference.
  • The habitat (=environment) is formed by another living animal to which the parasite transferred “the burden of regulating its relationship with the external environment”
harmful effects
Harmful Effects
  • Some parasitologists emphasized that parasites produced harmful effects on their hosts
  • Given this emphasis, parasitism could be defined as the form of symbiosis in which “one species lived at the expense of the other” in the association
webster s third new international dictionary
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary

“An organism living in or on another living organism, obtaining from it part or all of its organic nutriment, commonly exhibiting some degree of adaptive structural modification, and causing some degree of real damage to its host”

is there a resolution
Is There a Resolution?
  • A number of parasitologists have concluded that there is no distinct ecology, function, evolution, or physiology that distinguishes all parasites from all nonparasites
  • In essence, there is no such thing as an unambiguous definition of parasitism because only common ancestry is unambiguous in biology, and parasites do not represent a monophyletic group