Parasitism: Definition and Examples

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Examples of Parasitism

A relationship between two species of plants or animals in which one benefits at the expense of the other, many times the parasite lives in or on the host and may even cause the host to die.

definition parasitism

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. Plasmodium is a protozoan that causes malaria which is a worldwide disease. The Plasmodium enters the bloodstream of the host from a mosquito bite. It lives in the host’s blood but eventually infects the red blood cells which can lead to malaria.

Many worms are parasites. A very common example is a tapeworm that lives inside the intestine of an animal and will eat a portion of the food of the host. The tapeworms may lead to serious complications, including blocking the intestine.


Several arthropods are parasites like this tick. The tick drinks the blood of the host and some ticks may transfer Lyme disease to the host which can be a very serious disease. My daughter had Lyme disease. 

Plants can even be parasites. Mistletoe is a plant you will see high in trees and is actually a parasite. Mistletoe will attach to their host tree or shrub and then extract water and nutrients from the host plant.

Rafflesia is noted for producing the largest individual flower on Earth. It has a very strong and unpleasant odor. Rafflesia lacks any observable leaves, stems, or even roots, This plant grows thread-like strands of tissue that come in contact with surrounding host plants from which nutrients and water are obtained.

parasitic plant

So in summary parasites benefit from their relationship with their host and the host is either harmed or possibly dies.

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