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  Hybridization (from the Greek for the offspring of a tame sow and wild boar, or the offspring of one free parent and one slave) is the breeding of members of different species with one another to form a hybrid. In the 18th and 19th centuries many scientists and horticulturalists were fascinated by hybridization. Species do not normally interbreed and the offspring of such matings are often sterile, but plants can often be reproduced vegetatively (that is, without sexual reproduction, as in the propagation of new plants from cuttings). Many new species are formed by the crossbreeding of existing species, usually of the same genus. In the 18th century, Linnaeus investigated hybridization in plants and attempted to reproduce existing species by crossing different members of the same genus. He was interested in showing how a few divinely created species could give rise to many more by crossbreeding. In the 19th century, Gregor Mendel studied hybridization and it was this that stimulated his investigation of genetics in different varieties of pea plant (see also Mendelism). However, Darwin\'s theories on evolution distracted attention from hybridization by providing new explanations for the appearance of new species. RB

See also speciation; thremmatology.



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