Somatic Hybridisation or Parasexual hybridization is the technique of production of hybrids through the fusion of protoplasts from different genetic backgrounds. It takes place by the removal of cell wall by digestion with a combination of pectinase and cellulase.
The plant cells lacking cells wall are called protoplasts. The fusion between protoplasts of the selected parents is induced by a solution of polyethylene glycol (PEG) or by a very brief voltage electric current. When the protoplasts are cultured on a suitable medium, they regenerate cell walls and begin to divide to ultimately produce plantlets.
Somatic hybridisation is useful in the production of hybrids between lines and species that cannot be produced normally by means of sexual hybridisation, e.g., somatic hybrid between a non- flowering clone of potato and a flowering potato clone produced fertile flowers.
Somatic hybrid has also been produced between monocot rice and dicot carrot. This technique may be used for gene transfer, transfer of cytoplasm and production of useful allopolyploids. Pomato is a somatic hybrid of potato and Tomato while Bomato is formed between Brinjal and Tomato.