Hybridism is the occurrence of offspring of genetically dissimilar parents or stock, especially the offspring produced by breeding plants or animals of different varieties, species, or races. The term hybridism is believed to be derived from the Latin word "hybrida", "hibrida" or "ibrida", translated to "insult or outrage". As a general rule, animals and plants belonging to distinct species do not produce offspring when crossed with each other, and the term hybrid has been employed for the result of a fertile cross between individuals of different species. Examples of hybridism are mules, a cross between a horse and an ass, ligers and tigons, which are both crosses between lions and tigers, and the fictional jackalope, a humorous cross between a rabbit and a deer.

Hybridism in animals


Hybridism in plants

The earliest recorded observation of a hybrid plant is by JG Gmelin towards the end of the 17th century; the next is that of Thomas Fairchild, who in the second decade of the 18th century, produced a cross which is still grown in gardens under the name of "Fairchild's Sweet William." Linnaeus made many experiments in the cross-fertilization of plants and produced several hybrids. Joseph Gottlieb Kolreuter was a pioneer in plant hybridism, having discovered a great deal about the subject.

Human fascination with hybridism

Many people become very interested in hybridism simply because of the fact that two species are blending together to create an entirely new species. This often ends up with interesting results, that simply fascinate Man. Many cryptozoologists believe that there are thousands of undiscovered hybrids roaming the earth. Many cryptozoological monsters are believed to be hybrids. For example one theory about the origin of Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, is that if they do exist, they could be hybrids of men and apes.

Theory of hybridism

s slightly different. Darwin considered and rejected the view that the inter-sterility of species could have been the result of natural selection.

"At one time it appeared to me probable, as it has to others, that the sterility of first crosses and of hybrids might have been slowly acquired through the natural selection of slightly lessened degrees of fertility, which, like any other variation, spontaneously appeared in certain individuals of one variety when crossed with those of another variety. For it would clearly be advantageous to two varieties or incipient species if they could be kept from blending, on the same principle that, when man is selecting at the same time two varieties, it is necessary that he should keep them separate. In the first place, it may be remarked that species inhabiting distinct regions are often sterile when crossed; now it could clearly have been of no advantage to such separated species to have been rendered mutually sterile and, consequently, this could not have been effected through natural selection; but it may perhaps be argued that, if a species were rendered sterile with some one compatriot, sterility with other species would follow as a necessary contingency. In the second place, it is almost as much opposed to the theory of natural selection as to that of special creation, that in reciprocal crosses the male element of one form should have been rendered utterly impotent on a second form, whilst at the same time the male element of this second form is enabled freely to fertilize the first form; for this peculiar state of the reproductive system could hardly have been advantageous to either species."

Darwin came to the conclusion that the sterility of crossed species must be due to some principle quite independent of natural selection. In his search for such a principle he brought together much evidence as to the instability of the reproductive system, pointing out in particular how frequently wild animals in captivity fail to breed, whereas some domesticated races have been so modified by confinement as to be fertile together although they are descended from species probably mutually infertile. He was disposed to regard the phenomena of differential sterility as, so to speak, by-products of the process of evolution.

George Romanes afterwards developed his theory of physiological selection, in which he supposed that the appearance of differential fertility within a species was the starting-point of new species; certain individuals by becoming fertile only inter se proceeded along lines of modification diverging from the lines followed by other members of the species. Physiological selection in fact would operate in the same fashion as geographical isolation; if a portion of a species separated on an island tends to become a new species, so also a portion separated by infertility with the others would tend to form a new species. According to Romanes, therefore, mutual infertility was the starting-point, not the result, of specific modification. Romanes, however, did not associate his interesting theory with a sufficient number of facts, and it has left little mark on the history of the subject. Alfred Russel Wallace, on the other hand, has argued that sterility between incipient species may have been increased by natural selection in the same fashion as other favourable variations are supposed to have been accumulated. He thought that "some slight degree of infertility was a not infrequent accompaniment of the external differences which always arise in a state of nature between varieties and incipient species."

August Weismann concluded, from an examination of a series of plant hybrids, that from the same cross hybrids of different character may be obtained, but that the characters are determined at the moment of fertilization; for he found that all the flowers on the same hybrid plant resembled one another in the minutest details of colour and pattern. Darwin already had pointed to the act of fertilization as the determining point, and it is in this direction that the theory of hybridism has made the greatest advance.

The starting-point of the modern views comes from the experiments and conclusions on plant hybrids made by Gregor Mendel and published in 1865. It is uncertain if Darwin had paid attention to this work; Romanes, writing in the 9th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, cited it without comment. First Hugo de Vries, then William Bateson and a series of observers returned to the work of Mendel, and made it the foundation of much experimental work and still more theory. It is still too soon to decide if the confident predictions of the Mendelians are justified, but it seems clear that a combination of Mendel's numerical results with Weismann's (see Heredity) conception of the particulate character of the germ-plasm, or hereditary material, is at the root of the phenomena of hybridism, and that Darwin was justified in supposing it to lie outside the sphere of natural selection and to be a fundamental fact of living matter.

Books about hybridism

* Apell, "Uber einige Resultate der Kreuzbefruchtung bei Knochenfischen, Bergens mus. aarbog" (1894)
* Bateson, "Hybridization and Cross-breeding," "Journal of the Royal horticultural Society" (1900)
*JL Bonhote, "Hybrid Ducks," "Proc. Zool. Soc. of London" (1905), p. 147
*Boveri, article "Befruchtung, in Ergebnisse der Anatomie und Entwickelungsgeschichte von Merkel und Bonnet", i. 385-485
*Cornevin et Lesbre, "Étude sur un hybride issu d'une mule féconde et d'un cheval", Rev. Sd. li. 144
*Charles Darwin, "Origin of Species" (1859), "The Effects of Cross and Self-Fertilization in the Vegetable Kingdom" (1878)
*Delage, "La Structure du protoplasma et les theories sur l'hérédité" (1895, with a literature)
*de Vries, The Law of Disjunction of Hybrids, Comptes rendui (1900), p. 845
*Elliot, "Hybridism"
*Escherick, "Die biologische Bedeutung der Genitalabhange der Insecten", Verk. 1. B. Wien, xlii 225
*Ewart, "The Pfnycuik Experiments" (1899)
*Focke, "Die Pflanzen-Mischlinge" (1881)
*Foster-Melliar, "The Book of the Ron" (1894)
*CF Gaertner, various papers in Flora, 1828, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1836, 1847, on Bastard-Pflanzen
*Gebhardt, "Uber die Bastardirung von Rana esculenta mit R. arvalis, Inaug. Dissert" (Breslau, 1894)
*G Mendel, "Versuche ber Pflanzen-Hybriden, Verh. Natur. Vereins in Brünn" (1865), pp. 1-52
*Morgan, "Experimental Studies, Anat. Anz." (1893), p. 141; hi. p. 803
*GJ Romanes, "Physiological Selection," "Jour. Linn. Soc." xix. 337
*H Scherren, "Notes on Hybrid Bears," "Proc. Zool. Soc. of London" (1907), p. 4~i
*Saunders, "Proc. Roy. Soc." (1897), lxii.
*I Standfuss, "Études de zoologie exprimentale", Arch. Sci. Nat vi. 495
*André Suchetet, "Les Oiseaux hybridés rencontrés a l'état sauvage," "Mém. Soc. Zool." v. 253-525, and vi. 26-45
*Vercon "The Relation between the Hybrid and Parent Forms of Echincsk Larvae," "Proc. Roy. Soc." lxv. 350
*Wallace, "Darwinism" (1889)
*Weismann, "The Germ-Plasm" (1893)

See also

* Hybrid
* Bird hybrids
* F1 hybrids
* Genetic engineering
* purebred
* selective breeding
* species barrier
* human-animal hybrid
* Inbreeding
* sheep-goat hybrid
* hybrid names

External links

* [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F391&viewtype=text&pageseq=1 On The Origin Of The Species; Chapter 8:Hybridism] : by Charles Darwin


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  • Hybridism — Hy brid*ism, n. The state or quality of being hybrid. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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