Much of the bounty of the ocean is, these days, far less plentiful than it used to be. Scarcity has made oysters expensive, turning this unattractive mollusc into a delicacy for the rich. That could change if researchers find a way to breed a faster growing and larger oyster.

As many gardeners and farmers know, crossbreeding two wimpy specimens sometimes produces strong offspring—an effect known as hybrid vigour. Hybrid vigour is common in plants and is found in some animals—though, some speculate, it may be lacking in European royalty. …

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