Heterosis (hybrid vigour) is a universal phenomenon of crucial agro-economic and evolutionary importance. We show that the most common heterosis coefficients do not properly measure deviation from additivity because they include both a component accounting for “real” heterosis and a term that is not related to heterosis, since it is derived solely from parental values. Therefore, these coefficients are inadequate whenever the aim of the study is to compare heterosis levels between different traits, environments, genetic backgrounds, or developmental stages, as these factors may affect not only the level of non-additivity, but also parental values. The only relevant coefficient for such comparisons is the so-called “potence ratio”. Because most heterosis studies consider several traits/stages/environmental conditions, our observations support the use of the potence ratio, at least in non-agronomic contexts, because it is the only non-ambiguous heterosis coefficient.
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