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Heterosis in Crop Plants

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    Heterosis, hybrid vigor, or outbreeding enhancement, is the improved or increased function of any biological quality in a hybrid offspring. The adjective derived from heterosis is heterotic. An offspring exhibits heterosis if its traits are enhanced as a result of mixing the genetic contributions of its parents. These effects can be due to Mendelian or non-Mendelian inheritance. Heterosis is often discussed as the opposite of inbreeding depression although differences in these two concepts can be seen in evolutionary considerations such as the role of genetic variation or the effects of genetic drift in small populations on these concepts. Inbreeding depression occurs when related parents have children with traits that negatively influence their fitness largely due to homozygosity. In such instances, outcrossing should result in heterosis. Not all outcrosses result in heterosis. For example, when a hybrid inherits traits from its parents that are not fully compatible, fitness can be reduced. This is a form of outbreeding depression. An increase in hybrid vigour called heterosis.

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