The third type of nutrition is called mixotrophic nutrition. In this type of nutrition, there is an association of two different living organisms.
Nutrients may be obtained by both the organisms or only by one organism. In the former condition, both the organisms are benefited while in the latter case only once of the organisms is benefited of the association.
When two organisms live together, exchange nutrients and are benefited mutually. This nutrition is called symbiotic nutrition.
One of the organisms provide nutrients required for the other organism which the other provides shelter or nutrients or both.
Symbiotic mode of nutrition is seen in both plants and animals. Nitrogen fixing bacteria living in the root nodules of leguminous plants is a typical example for symbiotic nutrition.
Plant provides shelter and nutrients to the bacteria while bacteria provide nitrogenous compounds to the plant.
Similarly, symbiotic association is seen in lichens where algae supplies food to fungi, fungi provides protection to algae and live together.
In animal kingdom, the association of certain crabs with sea anemones is an example of symbiotic nutrition.
Sea anemones give protection to the animal while the small pieces of food particles are provided to sea anemones by the crab.
Parasitism is the second type of mixotrophic nutrition – parasite is an organism which lives inside (called endoparasite) or outside (called ectoparasite) of another organism (called host ) and obtain the nutrients form the host organism.
In this mode of nutrition, only parasite is benefited. Body functions of the host are usually affected badly due to the invasion of the parasite and the host may even die.
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