Main difference – Mutualism vs Commensalism

Mutualism, commensalism, and also parasitism are the 3 categories of symbiotic relationships, occurring between members of 2 or an ext species. The main difference in between mutualism and commensalism is the in mutualism, both partner of the connection are benefitted vice versa, in commensalism, only one companion of the connection benefits where the various other is unaffected.

You are watching: What is the difference between mutualism and commensalism

In parasitism, one companion of the relationship benefits by obtaining nutrients at the price of the other partner. The symbiotic relationships are kept in order to achieve straightforward life demands such as food, locomotion, shelter, and also defense.

Key areas Covered

1. What is Mutualism – Definition, Features, Examples 2. What is Commensalism – Definition, Features, Examples 3. What are the Similarities in between Mutualism and Commensalism – synopsis of typical Features 4. What is the Difference in between Mutualism and also Commensalism – comparison of an essential Differences

Key Terms: Commensalism, Inquilinism, Metabiosis, Microbiota, Mutualism, Phoresy, Symbiosis


What is Mutualism

Mutualism is a classification of symbiosis where both partner of the relationship benefit. The two partners in a mutualistic partnership are advanced together. Due to the fact that each partner is a ingredient of the environment, the other partner makes use the it. In that way, both partners benefit from the relationship. Several species of mutualistic relationships can be identified in the environment based on the function. They are nutritional mutualism, sanctuary mutualism, deliver mutualism, pollination mutualism, and also defensive mutualism.


Figure 01: Nutritional Mutualism (A bird drinks the nectar of a flower while aiding the pollination)

The bee or bird and also flower is a mutualistic relationship, i m sorry is based on nutritional requirements. The nectar the the flower feeds the punishment or bird and also other insects. The bee serves as an exterior pollination agent because that the flower. Bacteria in the digestive street of humans and also other animals aid the digestion of food when human provides shelter for the bacteria. The nitrogen-fixing bacteria carry out nutrients to plants while obtaining a sanctuary from the root of the plants. The ants protect acacia plants from browsing animals while the ants attain food and shelter indigenous the plant.

What is Commensalism

Commensalism is a symbiotic relationship between two biology in different types where just one companion benefits and the other is unaffected. The unaffected partner in a commensalistic partnership is referred to as the host organism. The commensalistic relationships are based upon obtaining nutrients, locomotion, shelter, and support indigenous the host.


Figure 02: Pilot fishes through a shark

Four varieties of commensalism room found; inquilinism, metabiosis, phoresy, and also microbiota. In inquilinsm, one biology obtains long-term shelter from the host organism there is no harming the host. The epiphytic plants growing on trees are an example for inquilinsm. In metabiosis, one organism forms a habitat ~ above the organize organism. Hermit crabs utilizing dead gastropods for their defense is an instance for metabiosis. In phoresy, one biology attaches v the organize organism because that transport. Millipedes travel on birds is an instance for phoresy. In microbiota, one organism forms communities within the organize organism. The bacter flora found on the human skin is an instance for microbiota. The pilot fishes speak attached to a shark because that obtaining food is presented in figure 02.

Similarities in between Mutualism and Commensalism

Both mutualism and also commensalism are two types of symbiotic relationship within two or more different species where neither varieties harm.Both mutualism and commensalism are based upon obtaining nutrients, locomotion, shelter, defense or support.

Difference in between Mutualism and also Commensalism


Mutualism: Mutualism is a type of symbiotic relationship amongst two or more different types where both varieties benefit.

Commensalism: Commensalism is a type of symbiotic connection where just one varieties benefits and also the other is unaffected.


Mutualism: Both varieties benefit in mutualism.

Commensalism: just one species is benefitted in commensalism.


Mutualism: Relationship between bees and also flowers, digestive bacteria and humans, oxpeckers and also zebras, etc. Are instances of mutualism.

Commensalism: Hermit crabs making use of dead gastropods for your protection, millipedes travel on birds, etc. Are examples of commensalism.


Mutualism and commensalism space two categories of symbiotic relationships amongst two or much more different species. Both types of symbiotic relationship are based on either obtaining food, locomotion, shelter, defense, or support. In mutualism, both types benefit. In commensalism, only one species benefits while the other is unaffected. This is the main difference in between mutualism and also commensalism.

See more: How To Remove Liquid Nails From Wall, How To Remove Liquid Nails From Drywall


1.”Mutualism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., n.d. Web. Obtainable here. 05 July 2017.  2.”Mutualism.” McDanile College. N.p., n.d. Web. Obtainable here. 05 July 2017.  3. Helmenstine, anne Marie. “Benefit there is no Harm: Commensalism Explained.” ThoughtCo. N.p., n.d. Web. Obtainable here. 05 July 2017.

Image Courtesy: