Difference Between Parasites and Partial Parasites | Parasites vs Partial Parasites


The key difference between parasites and partial parasites is that parasites totally depend on the host for survival, growth, and reproduction while partial parasites only depend on the host for certain factors such as water and habitat.

Parasites depend on their host for one or more factors, which enable them to continue their lives. Depending on their needs, parasites could be harmful. Most parasites are harmful since they depend on their host for many requirements. However, parasites with partial needs only depend on a few requirements and are categorized as least harmful organisms. But they are not completely harmless.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Parasites
3. What are Partial Parasites
4. Similarities Between Parasites and Partial Parasites
5. Side by Side Comparison – Parasites vs Partial Parasites in Tabular Form
6. Summary

What are Parasites?

Parasites totally depend on their host to fulfill all their requirements. These requirements include growth, survival, and reproduction. Since they totally depend on the host, they are referred to as total parasites or holoparasites. Furthermore, parasites do not produce their own food. Their reproduction cycles are also totally based on the host organism.

Difference Between Parasites and Partial Parasites | Parasites vs Partial Parasites

Figure 01: Cuscuta plant

Plant-based parasites completely fulfill their nutritional requirement by sucking the sap from the host. The most common example of parasitic plants is Cuscuta (dodder plant). These parasitic plants possess reduced minute scale leaves and a specialized root system called haustoria. Haustoria enable the parasitic plant to penetrate the host tissues and absorb nutrients. Furthermore, there are two types of animal parasites as endoparasites and ectoparasites. Endoparasites live inside the body of animals whilst ectoparasites live on the body surfaces of animals.  Moreover, animal parasites could be pathogenic or nonpathogenic. Therefore, they have the potential to cause disease conditions in host animals.

What are Partial Parasites?

Partial parasites depend on their host for a few requirements. Partial parasites are also referred to as hemiparasites. They do not depend on the host for nutrition, but only for water and habitat. Partial parasites are usually photosynthetic since they contain chlorophyll. Therefore, they produce their own food. Hence, partial parasites are not completely harmful when compared to parasites (total parasites).

Difference Between Parasites and Partial Parasites | Parasites vs Partial Parasites

Figure 02: Partial parasite – Rhinanthus

Most partial parasites are plant-based. Some examples include mistletoe, Santalum album (Indian sandalwood), Rhinanthus (rattle plants) etc. The Western Australian Christmas tree (Nuytsia floribunda) and yellow rattle Rhinanthus are two examples of obligate root partial parasite and facultative root partial parasite, respectively.

What are the Similarities Between Parasites and Partial Parasites?

  • Parasites and partial parasites depend on host organisms to fulfill one or more requirements.
  • In addition, both types depend on their host for shelter.

What is the Difference Between Parasites and Partial Parasites?

Parasites may be total parasites or partial parasites. Total parasites depend on the host for all their requirements while partial parasites depend on their host for certain requirement except nutrition. So, this is the key difference between parasites and partial parasites. Furthermore, a major difference between parasites and partial parasites is that the partial parasites have chlorophylls to carry out photosynthesis, but total parasites do not have chlorophylls. Moreover, “holoparasites” is a synonym for total parasites while “hemiparasites” is a synonym for partial parasites.

Below infographic summarizes the difference between parasites and partial parasites.

Difference Between Parasites and Partial Parasites | Parasites vs Partial Parasites

Summary – Parasites vs Partial Parasites

The key difference between parasites and partial parasites lies on their impact on the host organism. Parasites (total) depend on their host for all their requirements including nutrients. However, Partial parasites only depend on the host for water and shelter, not nutrients. Since partial parasites contain chlorophyll, they photosynthesize and produce their own food. Partial parasites are mostly plant-based while total parasites include both plants and animals. Moreover, animal parasites are of two categories: endoparasites and ectoparasites. Thus, this summarizes the difference between parasites and partial parasites.

Reference:

1. “Parasitism.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Ed, Encyclopedia.com, 2019, Available here.
2. Westwood, James H. “Parasitic Plant.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 17 Nov. 2017, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Cuscuta europaea bgiu” By Bogdan assumed – Own work assumed (based on copyright claims) (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Yellow-rattle close 700” By Sannse – en.wikipedia.org: 19:07, 5. Jun 2004. Sannse (Talk). 700×925 (197710 Byte) (Yellow-rattle ) (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia