The faculty of Life Sciences aims to increase the visibility of the research field symbiosis within the faculty. Speakers of this program are Monika Bright and Matthias Horn.

Symbiosis is one of the driving forces in evolution. The eukaryotic cell and thus all plants, animals and fungi arose from a symbiotic association between ancient prokaryotes; and today, symbiosis spans all realms of life: humans rely on symbiotic bacteria in their gut and on their skin; plants depend on symbiotic bacteria or fungi, and need insects for pollination; and most arthropods carry specific bacterial symbionts, just to name a few examples. Symbiotic associations enable plants to grow in nutrient-deficient soils, let animals live on monotonous diets, and dominate life in hostile habitats such as the deep sea. Taken together, they are the dominant life form on planet earth. The recognition of the original broad definition of symbiosis (according to Anton de Bary) and the recent finding of diversity and variability of symbiotic associations lead to a new awareness of the importance to study and understand interactions between organisms. Intricate signals, from molecules to complex behaviour - facilitate recognition of partners, regulate energy transfer, synchronize growth and reproduction, and determine the outcome of the interaction. Costs and benefits for the partners may change and the boundary between mutualism, parasitism and pathogenicity becomes blurred.

Symbiosis in its diverse manifestations is a research focus of several groups at the University of Vienna. This is reflected by the Faculty Research Focus Symbiosis of the Faculty of Life Sciences. This website provides an overview on symbiosis research at the University of Vienna and introduces current activities.