“I’ll be your bodyguard in exchange for sweets.” This is how the arrangement between ant and greenfly could be described. The ant protects the greenfly from ladybirds and is rewarded with homemade syrup—a mutually beneficial pact: a symbiosis. Nature has endless varieties of such marriages of convenience in which often very different partners complement each other through mutual assistance to achieve more together than each would on their own. Without symbioses—which can be found in the depths of the Pacific as well as our own intestinal bacteria—there would be neither plants, animals nor humans. Charles Darwin saw competition as the driving principle of evolution, but cooperation plays an equally important part in the ongoing development of life.
Enhanced by many colour illustrations, this entertaining book shows the spectrum of symbiotic relationships, offering fascinating insights into its biological context.