Difference Between Hybridization and Cloning

Hybridization vs Cloning

Difference between hybridization and cloning has always been an area of interest to many people even when they are not scientists. Recently, these topics are even popular in the world of science fiction. So, what do they mean in the world of science? Hybridization and cloning are two techniques in biology that are particularly carried out for obtaining and maintaining superior generations of organisms or molecules such as DNA. Although the two terms are referring mostly to artificial hybridization and cloning, there are several examples of natural hybridization and cloning too. Today, there are ample amount of commercialized hybrids and clones of plants and animals though animal clones are banned in some countries.

What is Hybridization?

Hybridization is a method of sexual reproduction from which a hybrid, an organism with characteristics of both parents, is obtained. There are subcategories of hybridization namely, interspecific hybridization where two species of the same genus is mated to produce a better hybrid (ex: Bovid hybrids), and two individuals of a species are mated to obtain a hybrid (ex: Two varieties of Oryza Sativa is crossed to obtain a hybrid). Although there are terms such as intergeneric hybridization, it is impossible to produce those hybrids due to genetic barrier. Natural hybridization is also found. For example, Mule is a hybrid of a male donkey and a female horse.

Difference Between Hybridization and Cloning

Mule – A Hybrid of Female Horse and Male Donkey

Hybrids are generally sterile (unable to reproduce by themselves), so to produce a hybrid there should be the two parental types. Although hybrid plants are fertile, further generations will be losing good characters, so plant hybrids also are produced using their two parental types.

What is Cloning?

Cloning is a process of reproduction to obtain an exact copy of the parent. Unlike hybridization, cloning does not require two parents. In natural environment, clones are produced by the asexual reproduction of organisms (ex: bacteria). There are three different types of artificial cloning methods: gene cloning, reproductive cloning, and therapeutic cloning. Gene cloning is the production of exactly similar copies of a selected gene. In this process, desired gene is extracted from the genome and then inserted into a carrier/vector (ex: bacterial plasmid) and allowed to multiply (ex: human insulin). Reproductive cloning produces identical copies of animals through a process called nuclear transplantation (ex: Dolly the sheep) or plants through the method of single-cell cultures. In therapeutic cloning, embryonic stem cells are produced to create different tissues in organisms. So that diseased or damaged tissues can be replaced from cloned artificial tissues.

Hybridization vs Cloning

Dolly – World’s first cloned sheep

Apart from above methods, identical twins of humans and other mammals are also referred to as natural clones as they are resulted from splitting of fertilized egg into two.

What is the difference between Hybridization and Cloning?

There are both similarities as well as differences between hybridization and cloning.

• Hybridization is a method of sexual reproduction whereas cloning is a method of asexual reproduction.

• Hybrids animals are sterile, but cloned animals are fertile.

• Hybrid organism contains DNA from male and female parents, but cloned organism contains DNA from only one type of parent.

• Hybridization gives rise to genetically different organism from its parents known as hybridwhile cloning gives rise to an identical copy of a parent organism known as a clone.

• Hybrid has superior characters over its parents (improved hybrid vigor), but clones are 100% identical to their parent.

• Hybridization gives only one hybrid progeny, whereas through cloning unlimited identical organisms can be produced.

• Hybridization techniques are cost effective compared to the cloning.

• Both the artificial hybridization and cloning are carried out to obtain and maintain best traits/ characters of parent organism/s.

In conclusion, hybridization and cloning can be considered as two major biotechnological processes of obtaining organisms with superior traits.


Images Courtesy: 

  1. Mules by Hesterm77 (CC BY 2.5)
  2. Dolly the sheep by Mike Pennington (CC BY-SA 2.0)