Bioscience in brief
Plant genetics and crop breeding
What are intraspecific or F1 hybrids?
Intraspecific or F1 hybrids are the result of crossing genetically divergent individuals from the same species.
Hybrids are sometimes stronger than either parent variety, a phenomenon known as hybrid vigor (or heterosis). An economically important example is hybrid maize, which provides a considerable seed yield advantage over open pollinated varieties.
An additional advantage of F1 hybrids which is very important to farmers is their uniformity: all the plants in the population will grow and develop at the same rate. This agronomic characteristic makes the crops easier and cheaper to manage.
The seeds of F1 hybrids are not sterile. However, subsequent generation will not be uniform, and due to genetic segregation of alleles during sexual reproduction, not all the individuals derived will contain all the desired agronomic characteristics found in the hybrid. This is why farmers are advised to either buy or develop new hybrid seeds each time they plant.
Therefore it is important for farmers to determine whether the economic advantage of growing F1 hybrid crops offsets the cost of the seeds each year. And of course farmers need to be able to afford to purchase the seeds in the first place, so access to funds is essential.