What is the Difference Between GMO and Hybrid

The main difference between GMO and hybrid is that GMO is produced by genetic engineering, altering the genetic material of an organism, whereas a hybrid is produced by cross-breeding of two varieties through artificial mating. Furthermore, a GMO has a foreign DNA piece introduced into the genome under laboratory conditions while a hybrid can be produced by mating two distinct breeds. 

GMO (genetically-modified organism) and hybrid are two types of organisms produced through distinct genetic manipulation techniques. 

Key Areas Covered 

1. What is a GMO
     – Definition, Procedure, Importance
2. What is a Hybrid
     – Definition, Procedure, Importance
3. What are the Similarities Between GMO and Hybrid
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between GMO and Hybrid
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms 

Cisgenic, Cross Breading, Hybrid, Genetic Engineering, GMO, Transgenic  Difference Between GMO and Hybrid - Comparison Summary

What is a GMO 

GMO (genetically-modified organism) is an organism with genetic material that is altered by introducing a piece of foreign DNA containing the desired character. The technique responsible for the production of a GMO is genetic engineering. Generally, based on the origin of the DNA piece, there are two types of GMOs. They are cisgenic and transgenic GMOs. Basically, GMO is cisgenic when the foreign DNA piece belongs to the same species while it is transgenic when the foreign DNA piece belongs to a different species.

Difference Between GMO and Hybrid

Figure 1: Golden Rice – A GMO Food

Furthermore, a plasmid vector serves as the carrier of foreign DNA into the host cell. When the recombinant vector is transformed into the host, it is called as the genetically-modified organism. Furthermore, farm animals, crop plants, and soil bacteria are subjected to genetic engineering to produce GMOs. Their introduced characteristics are important to optimize agricultural performance, to enhance the nutrient composition and the quality, to decrease the susceptibility to diseases as well as to produce important pharmaceutical substances.  

What is a Hybrid 

A hybrid is an organism that is a result of the cross-breeding of two distinct parents. Here, the two parents may belong to different varieties, breeds or species. Generally, the hybrid organism has characteristics between the two parent organisms. However, sometimes, they are weaker than their parents in terms of fertilization and other performances. Cross-breeding can be natural or artificial. An example of the natural cross-breeding is a mule, which is a cross between a horse and donkey. On the other hand, artificial cross-breeding can be performed through artificial insemination in animals. Moreover, cross-pollination is the technique of cross-breeding in plants. 

GMO vs Hybrid

Figure 2: Mules

Sometimes, artificial cross-breeding can increase productivity and longevity in animals. Therefore, it is important to increase the milk production of cattle. It can also produce different breeds of dogs and horses with new traits.

Similarities Between GMO and Hybrid 

  • GMO and hybrid are two types of organisms produced by man through artificial genetic manipulation. 
  • Moreover, both organisms have the desired characteristics.  

Difference Between GMO and Hybrid 


GMO (genetically modifies organism) refers to an organism whose genetic material is altered by genetic engineering techniques while a hybrid refers to an organism that is an offspring of genetically dissimilar parents or stock. Thus, this explains the main difference between GMO and hybrid.

Natural or Artificial 

Moreover, GMO is an artificial method of genetic manipulation while a hybrid is either natural or artificial method of genetic manipulation. 


Furthermore, genetic engineering is the technique of genetic manipulation in a GMO, while cross-breeding is the technique of genetic manipulation in a hybrid. Hence, this is another difference between GMO and hybrid.

Types of Organisms 

Besides, a GMO has an introduced piece of foreign DNA that belongs to the same or different species while a hybrid is the offspring of either different varieties, breeds or species.  


Also, a GMO can produce a desired trait while a hybrid has a vigor, which lies between the two parental organisms. 


While GMOs sometimes show disease susceptibility, hybrid organisms have weaknesses such as infertility. 


GMO is an organism that has a foreign piece of DNA introduced by genetic engineering. The foreign DNA may come from the same or different species. However, they can produce a desirable characteristic due to the introduced DNA. On the other hand, a hybrid is an organism that is a result of the cross-breeding of two different varieties. However, it has hybrid vigor, and most of the times, a hybrid is infertile. Therefore, the main difference between GMO and hybrid is the type of genetic manipulation and the characteristics of the resultant organism. 


1. Lallanilla, Marc. “What Are GMOs and GM Foods?” LiveScience, Purch, 8 July 2019, Available Here.
2. “Hybrid.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Nov. 2018, Available Here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Golden Rice” By International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia   
2. “Mules leisurely enjoying the sun and the snow” By fishhawk (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia   

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

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