Research Topic

Symbiotic Relationships as Shapers of Biodiversity

About this Research Topic

Symbiosis, or the close interaction between two or more organisms, is exceedingly common in nature. Symbiotic relationships modify the physiology of the interacting partners, influence their ecological dynamics and evolutionary processes, and ultimately alter the distribution of species across the planet. To date, research has demonstrated that symbionts play a role in shaping biodiversity on our planet. However, many facets of the relationship between symbiosis and the generation and maintenance of biodiversity remain unexplored. In the face of unprecedented changes in climate, symbiotic relationships are also key to understanding how species will endure changing environmental conditions.

A common area in which symbiosis has influenced biodiversity includes how symbionts have provided increased metabolic capacities to their hosts, increasing their productivity (such as in the case of bacteria within insects and bacteria within the roots of crops). Deep ocean fauna has also benefited from mutualism with microbes to increase energy generation in lightless environments. Symbionts have spectacularly mediated the generation of new organs that allow species to explore different habitats and camouflage themselves from predators. Given these tight relationships, symbionts have become intrinsic to hosts’ life cycles and host development often depends on symbionts- such is the case for many marine species with larval development. Reproductive isolation and the generation of new species can also occur via symbiotic relationships by providing extrinsic and intrinsic incompatibilities. Importantly, symbionts are essential to bypass periods of stress, such as during warming events as a result of climate change. For example, symbiotic algae are instrumental in the recovery of corals during catastrophic bleaching events.

In this Research Topic, we welcome contributions aiming to understand how symbiotic partners have generated or altered patterns of biodiversity (including symbiosis other than microbial cases). We encourage submissions from research teams working under natural conditions. Our goal is to generate a compendium of studies that highlights the role of symbiosis in shaping biodiversity patterns and establish how symbiotic relationships are primordial to understanding species distributions, as well as how symbiotic relationships can buffer biodiversity loss during climate change.


Keywords: Symbiosis, mutualism, biodiversity, species interactions, stress response, microbiome, Symbiodiniaceae


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Symbiosis, or the close interaction between two or more organisms, is exceedingly common in nature. Symbiotic relationships modify the physiology of the interacting partners, influence their ecological dynamics and evolutionary processes, and ultimately alter the distribution of species across the planet. To date, research has demonstrated that symbionts play a role in shaping biodiversity on our planet. However, many facets of the relationship between symbiosis and the generation and maintenance of biodiversity remain unexplored. In the face of unprecedented changes in climate, symbiotic relationships are also key to understanding how species will endure changing environmental conditions.

A common area in which symbiosis has influenced biodiversity includes how symbionts have provided increased metabolic capacities to their hosts, increasing their productivity (such as in the case of bacteria within insects and bacteria within the roots of crops). Deep ocean fauna has also benefited from mutualism with microbes to increase energy generation in lightless environments. Symbionts have spectacularly mediated the generation of new organs that allow species to explore different habitats and camouflage themselves from predators. Given these tight relationships, symbionts have become intrinsic to hosts’ life cycles and host development often depends on symbionts- such is the case for many marine species with larval development. Reproductive isolation and the generation of new species can also occur via symbiotic relationships by providing extrinsic and intrinsic incompatibilities. Importantly, symbionts are essential to bypass periods of stress, such as during warming events as a result of climate change. For example, symbiotic algae are instrumental in the recovery of corals during catastrophic bleaching events.

In this Research Topic, we welcome contributions aiming to understand how symbiotic partners have generated or altered patterns of biodiversity (including symbiosis other than microbial cases). We encourage submissions from research teams working under natural conditions. Our goal is to generate a compendium of studies that highlights the role of symbiosis in shaping biodiversity patterns and establish how symbiotic relationships are primordial to understanding species distributions, as well as how symbiotic relationships can buffer biodiversity loss during climate change.


Keywords: Symbiosis, mutualism, biodiversity, species interactions, stress response, microbiome, Symbiodiniaceae


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

06 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

06 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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