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Heterosis means increased strength of different characteristics in hybrids; the possibility to obtain a "better" individual by combining the virtues of its parents. The adjective comes from Greek.

This is commonly known as hybrid vigor. It is an observable phenomenon in which a hybrid plant or animal may exhibit greater strength, health or faster rate of growth than its parents. The term often causes controversy, particularly in terms of domestic animals, because it is sometimes believed that all crossbred plants or animals are better than their parents; this is untrue. Rather, when a hybrid is seen to be superior to its parents, this is known as hybrid vigor.

It may also happen that a hybrid inherits and exhibits the worst qualities of each of its parents, or is inferior to each. Sterility is a common manifestation of this, as in a mule, a hybrid of a donkey and a horse that is always incapable of reproduction.

See also

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