Mutualism is a type of symbiotic relationship where
two species of organisms live together and benefit from the interaction.
Many of these relationships exist in the rainforest; several will be
discussed here. For example all orchids depend on fungi called
mycorrhizae at some point during their life cycle. The fungi grow partly
on the root and aid the plant in the uptake of nutrients. The fungi
benefit as they ingest some of the food from plant photosynthesis.
Another example of mutualism is between the fruit of some plants and
fruit eating birds. The fruit provides nutrition for the bird and in
return the bird disperses the seeds of the plant as the fruit, loaded
with seeds passes through the birdís digestive system. There is even a
relationship between a certain species of nectar eating mite that
depends on the mutualistic relationship between plants and hummingbirds.
The mites are transported to each flower in the nasal cavity of the
One of the most often cited examples of mutualism is
the protozoa that live in the gut of termites. Without these protozoa,
the termite would be unable to digest the cellulose and other large
molecules in wood. The protozoa in return are provided with food,
shelter and a means of transportation for dispersal.