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Heterosis

Related Terms

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Background

  • Heterosis is based on the notion that genetic diversity increases the health (or fitness) and survival of an organism. Genetic diversity is defined by the Unified Medical Language System of the National Library of Medicine as "the phenotypic and genotypic differences among individuals in a population." Genotype refers to the genes contained in a cell, while phenotype refers to how genes are expressed, such as in physical traits or abnormalities.
  • The term "heterosis" is often used in genetics and selective breeding, in which desirable traits are bred into a species, while undesirable traits are bred out of the species. In breeding, heterosis refers to the idea that a hybrid (an animal or plant of mixed origin) has greater genetic strength than organisms of a homogenous (similar) background. It also refers to the potential to combine the positive traits of the parents into "better" offspring.
  • In humans, heterosis refers to children of parents who do not share a blood line and thereby genetic material.
  • When offspring are considered to be better, or more fit for survival, than their parents, this is known as hybrid vigor. However, crossbred plants or animals are not always better than their parents. It is possible for a hybrid to be less fit for survival, which is called outbreeding depression.
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Methods

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Research

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Implications

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Limitations

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Safety

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Future Research

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.