Hybrid Vigor?


The term heterosis, also known as “hybrid vigor “, describes the increased strength of different characteristics in hybrids: the possibility to obtain a genetically superior offspring by combining the virtues of its parents.  Oysters possess this unique and remarkable property resulting in offspring growing twice as fast and large as their parents.  Seed companies exploited this phenomenon to increase corn yields seven-fold from the 1920s spawning the Green Revolution.   This genetic characteristic is now being exploited for oyster breeding and farming if the Blue Revolution is to feed another 2 billion people on the planet by 2050.  I recently visited the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies Campus on Catalina Island and was amazed to learn that they are breeding oysters to grow twice as fast as their wild ancestors.  Hundreds of millions of baby oysters have been bred and are now maturing at Taylor Shellfish Farms located on the bays and inlets of Washington’s Puget Sound awaiting harvest of 5-8 million in 2011.