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Hybrid Plants: Definition & Examples

Hybrid Plants: Definition & Examples
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  • 0:01 Gregor Mendel
  • 1:40 Hybridization
  • 2:32 Advantages of Hybrid Plants
  • 3:10 Disadvantages of Hybrid Plants
  • 4:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jeremy Battista
Plant hybridization is nothing new to science; as a species, we have been breeding plants together for thousands of years. Here we will discuss hybrid plants in the classical sense and how this hybridization has helped science.

Gregor Mendel

In the mid-late nineteenth century, a monk by the name of Gregor Mendel started experimenting with bean plants. He was determined to explore and understand how genetic traits were inherited from parents to offspring and so on. He started off with true breeding plants and bred them together to create a group of offspring. He then bred them again, keeping track of whatever trait he was looking for.

In Mendel's experiments, it was said that he used true breeding plants. This means that he used plants that only had specific genes that produced a specific trait. The genotype is the genetic makeup of an organism, and its phenotype is the observed trait that is produced by the genotype. In Mendel's case, he sought out pea plants that produced a certain phenotype from a specific genotype.

Mendel tested one trait at a time, such as color. In pea plants, purple is thought to be dominant over white plants. Mendel found purple plants that had a genotype PP, giving a phenotype of purple flowers, and white plants that had a genotype ww, giving a phenotype of white flowers.

When Mendel crossed this parental or P generation of plants, he crossed purple with white, or PP with ww, giving a first filial or offspring (F1) generation of plants with a phenotype of purple flowers but a genotype of Pw. These would be called hybrid plants.

Gregor Mendel tested many different aspects of plants, such as height, wrinkled vs. smooth, shape of the pods etc.

Hybridization

Hybrid plants are nothing more than plants that have been successfully cross-bred with other plants to take advantage of certain traits and get rid of other, less advantageous traits. Two true breeding plants are bred together in hybrid plants in order to get a certain trait from the two. In Gregor Mendel's experiments, he would take true breeding plants for a certain trait and breed them together to get plants that gave one of the traits but had genes for both sets.

Hybridization occurs in most of the plants that are consumed today, such as vegetables and fruits. This is done through careful crossing of plants to get traits that we find useful, such as resistance to pests and disease, lack of water, etc. This has been going on for many, many years. It allows growers to get the best qualities out of their plants as well as produce a good yield of crops.

Advantages of Hybrid Plants

The biggest advantage that we see in hybrid plants is that scientists are cross-pollinating or cross breeding plants for their specific traits that growers and consumers want. Some plants are resistant to drought, others are resistant to pests, some yield better tasting crops, others yield cheaper food sources for livestock, etc.

After so many crosses of plants, scientists have actually created newer varieties of plants that end up having the traits that many people look for. From an economic standpoint, this is great, providing better products for less money.

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