What Is Hybridization: Information About Hybrid Plants


By: Anne Baley

Humans have been manipulating the world around them for thousands of years. We have changed the landscape, crossbred animals, and used the hybridization of plants, all to create change that benefits our lives. What is hybridization? Keep reading to learn more.

What is Hybridization?

Hybridization is growing two plants together in a special way to help the plants develop the natural traits we like. Hybridization differs from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) because hybridization takes advantage of traits natural to the plant, where GMOs insert traits that are not natural to the plant.

Plant hybridization can be used to create flowers with new and prettier designs, vegetables that taste better, or fruits that resist disease in the garden. It can be as complicated as elaborate commercial farming operations or as simple as a gardener trying to create a better shade of pink roses.

Plant Hybridization Info

Every living thing on Earth has certain traits that identify it, and these traits are passed down to its offspring. Each generation shows traits that are a combination of half male parent and half female parent. Each parent contributes a possible trait for the offspring to show, but the final product can be random within certain guidelines.

For instance, if you breed a male cocker spaniel with a female cocker spaniel, the puppies will end up looking like cocker spaniels. If you cross one of the parents with a poodle, however, some puppies will look like a cocker, some like a poodle, and some like cockapoos. The cockapoo is a hybrid dog, with traits from both parents.

It works the same way with plants. Take marigolds, for example. Cross a yellow marigold with a bronze marigold and you may end up with a bicolored flower or one with more yellow or bronze. Introducing the extra traits into the mix gives you a chance at different offspring from the parents. Once you have a trait you want to show up, crossing existing plants is the way to try to grow more crops with better traits.

Hybridization of Plants

Who uses plant hybridization? Growers who want to find tomatoes that last longer on the shelves while still tasting good, manufacturers who want to produce beans that resist common diseases, and even scientists who are looking for grains that contain more nutrition to try to help famine-stricken areas.

When you look at information about hybrid plants though, you’ll find thousands of amateur growers just trying to create interesting variations on old favorites. One of the most famous home hybridization experiments has been held for decades, looking for a pure white marigold flower. Gardeners who grow hibiscus know they can cross two flowers and get a completely different plant.

From huge commercial growers to individual gardeners, people are using hybridization to create an endless variety of new growing plants.

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Natural hybridization and reproductive isolation between two Primula species

Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla 666303, China

Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 10049, China

Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla 666303, China

Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China

Laboratory of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio‐Resources in Yunnan, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China

Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 10049, China

Laboratory of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio‐Resources in Yunnan, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China

Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla 666303, China

Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 10049, China

Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla 666303, China

Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China

Laboratory of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio‐Resources in Yunnan, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China

Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 10049, China

Laboratory of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio‐Resources in Yunnan, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China


Abstract

Location

Methods

The richness and distribution of plant hybrids was examined at the county level according to origin, that is, formed between native–native species (N × N), native–exotic species (N × E) and exotic–exotic species (E × E), using data from the Biota of North America Program.

Results

The three hybrid types (N × N, N × E and E × E) were positively related to each other and showed stronger positive relationship with exotic richness than with native richness. They also exhibited similar spatial patterns, with richness hotspots concentrated in the north‐east United States and Great Lakes region. However, the richness of hybrids of exotic origin (E × E and N × E) was not related to county area, as often observed for native species instead, it showed strong positive relationships with human population density. Thus, the overall patterns of hybrid richness and distribution support the ‘disturbance hypothesis’.

Main conclusions

The results are generally consistent with the disturbance hypothesis. The relationship between the number of hybrids of exotic origin and overall exotic richness provided stronger evidence for human‐induced than for naturally caused hybridization, although other possible explanations may also exist.


Why is it needed?

The main objective of hybridization is to produce genetically superior plant varieties, inheriting a combination of desirable traits from their antecedent, to grow into stronger, healthier plants.

The desirable characteristics, that a plant breeder wishes to incorporate in his breeds, are: resistance to disease and insects, resistance to salinity of the soil, tolerance to heat and cold, increased nutritional value, shortened height (giving rise to dwarf plant varieties), decreased time of maturity and elevated taste. Thus, manifold traits are taken into consideration while hybridizing plants.

Plant hybridization can take place between different varieties, breeds, species or genera. The different types of plant hybridization have been arrayed below:

Intraspecific Hybridization

This type of hybridization takes place between plants belonging to the same species but different varieties or sub-species. E.g. Ganga and Ranjit varieties of maize

Interspecific Hybridization

This type of hybridization includes breeding of plant individuals belonging to different species. E.g. a cross between Saccharum officinale and Saccharum barberi

Intergeneric Hybridization

The plant hybridization method which includes cross breeding between plants of different genera. E.g. Triticale- wheat and rye Intergeneric hybridized fertile plant.

Interfamilial Hybridization

The hybridization involving breeding of plant individuals of different families are known as interfamilial hybridization.

The process of hybridization involves various steps, namely: Selection (Mass selection, pure-line selection), hybridization, and commercialization

Selection

In mass selection, several seeds are collected from those plants which show the desirable traits morphologically. This procedure is also known as phenotypic selection.

Pure-line selection involves selection of numerous superior parental varieties from a genetically mixed population, self-pollination of those selected individuals for several generations until enough progenies are generated which are superior to the existing varieties.

Hybridization

Two genetically diverse parents are crossed to give rise to a progeny with desired traits. When hybridization is performed between two plants it is called single cross. While, when hybridization is executed between more than two plants, it is called multiple cross.

Commercialization

The testing, release and commercialization of new cultivars is the third step of plant breeding through hybridization. The newly yielded varieties are evaluated for several agronomic traits and cultivated for at least three growing seasons at different agroclimatic zones before their release in the market.

Plant hybridization is one of the contemporary methods of cultivation, brought to the common knowledge after the advent of the Green Revolution and has played a significant role for the betterment of human lives.


Abstract

Hybridization plays an important role in the evolution of many taxonomic groups, but large-scale phylogenetic patterns of hybridization are poorly known. Here, we investigate patterns of hybridization in vascular plants. Our dataset included 282 families, 3212 genera and ≈37,000 species accounts from eight regional floras covering continental Europe, two island regions, and parts of North America and Australia. Interspecific hybrids were common in the wild, occurring in 40% of families and 16% of genera, with an overall frequency of 0.09 hybrids per nonhybrid species. Taxon species richness explained a large amount of variation in the number of hybrids, but taxon bias (study effort) did not. We accounted for species richness in calculating hybridization propensities, and found that both families and genera differed in hybridization propensity. Hybridization propensity of a given group was generally consistent across regions (with the exception of Hawaii), suggesting that hybridization behavior may be determined more by intrinsic properties of a group than by environmental conditions. We found evidence of a strong phylogenetic signal (λ=0.93) in hybridization propensity as hybrids were not uniformly distributed across orders of vascular plants. Characterization of the hybridization behavior of groups should lead to increased predictive power regarding their traits and evolutionary trajectories, and will allow comparative tests of the traits driving differences in hybridization propensity.

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