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MCAT Content / Mendelian Concepts / Hybridization Viability

Hybridization: viability

Topic: Mendelian Concepts

A Hybrid is a cross between two species in which its viability signifies that they belong to the same species; hybridization of two different species may take place but may produce an inviable offspring.

A species is a group of individual organisms that interbreed and produce fertile, viable offspring. Members of the same species share both external and internal characteristics that develop from their DNA. However, species’ appearance can be misleading in suggesting an ability or inability to mate. For example, even though domestic dogs display phenotypic differences, such as size, build, and coat, most dogs can interbreed and produce viable puppies that can mature and sexually reproduce.


Interbreeding in Dogs: Dogs of different breeds still have the ability to reproduce. The (a) poodle and (b) cocker spaniel can reproduce to produce a breed known as (c) the cockapoo this shows animals of the same species that are genetically similar that produce fertile offspring.

When two species are genetically different but can produce viable offspring that can survive, these offspring are known as hybrids. For example, when a tiger breeds with a lion this would produce a liger, this is a hybrid (a cross between two species), would probably be infertile: unable to successfully reproduce after it reached maturity.

Practice Questions

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Inheritance patterns in flowering plants

MCAT Official Prep (AAMC)

Key Points

• Some species can look very dissimilar, such as two very different breeds of dogs, but can still mate and produce viable offspring, which signifies that they belong to the same species.

• Some species may look very similar externally, but can be dissimilar enough in their genetic makeup that they cannot produce viable offspring and are, therefore, different species.

• Hybrids are produced when two different species interbreed and produce viable offspring which is not fertile.

Key Terms

hybrid: offspring resulting from cross-breeding different entities, e.g. two different species or two purebred parent strains

species: a group of organisms that, in nature, are capable of mating and producing viable, fertile offspring

viable: capable of surviving or living successfully, especially under particular environmental conditions.

phenotypic: relating to the observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.

DNA: genetic material in an organism

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