Nucleic acid hybridization is a process in which single-stranded nucleic acids interact, causing hybrids to be created by molecules with similar complementary sequences. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, this process requires the molecules to be similar and have complementary bases. Nucleic acid hybridization usually involves the use of a probe to ensure that the chosen molecules are sufficiently similar to one another.
Nucleic acid hybridization can be used to create a hybrid strand of DNA and RNA. When two different molecules have bases that are complementary and can be associated with one another, the process of nucleic acid hybridization can bring them together into a unified strand. This is usually done by exposing the strands and molecules to heat, which denatures them. The National Center for Biotechnology Information goes on to explain that once this has been done, the old pairings are no longer held together, and a hybrid strand can be arranged.
Nucleic acid hybridization can be used to combine strands of DNA with other strands of DNA, or strands of RNA with other strands of RNA. It is also possible to use this technique to create a hybrid strand that contains elements from both DNA and RNA sources. All of these different hybrid strand types can be created using the same methodology. With a nucleotide probe, these strands can be used to identify and analyze different nucleotide sequences.