Biotech Updates

JIC Scientists Explain Hybrid Vigour

July 23, 2010

When two closely-related species are crossed, the resulting hybrid could be inferior to their parents or may display superior performance known as hybrid vigour. This led to various hypotheses about the effects of hybridization but no scientific explanation has been established yet. Thus, Enrico Coen of the John Innes Centre (JIC) and colleagues investigated the role of variation in genetic expression of flower asymmetry trait of two closely-related snapdragon species.

Results showed that the hybrids may show better performance in growth and other basic traits. However, in extended periods of time, other traits such as those involved in sexual reproduction may perform less well, leading to reduced fertility of hybrids. The scientists explained that gene expression levels can drift freely during evolution within specific limits. However, it is the cumulative effects of variation that explains the conflicting effects of hybridization.

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