Agricultural breeders have long observed that when plants or animals from different strains are interbred, the offspring tend to be stronger, healthier or generally more fit than either of their parents, although no one knew why this occurred. Now plant geneticists investigating the maize (corn) genome at Rutgers Waksman Institute of Microbiology have discovered a possible explanation for this phenomenon, known as heterosis or hybrid vigor.
The Rutgers findings, presented by research associate Huihua Fu and Professor Hugo K. Dooner in the June 11 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have important implications for the understanding of plant genetics as well as applications for improving agriculture.
"A clearer understanding of the basis of heterosis could help us develop new, more productive lines of corn or other plants," said Dooner.
Joseph Blumberg | EurekAlert
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