Science Questions

Can plant mutations be transmitted to people?

Sat, 15th May 2010

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Question

Paul Anderson asked:

If I eat a malformed apple, what are the chances that whatever caused the malformation might adapt to affect me in some adverse way? Could there ever be a cross over from plant to human of diseases, etc?

 

Answer

We put this question to Dr Jim Haseloff, from Cambridge University:

Jim -   I think it’s safe to say no.  The process of transfer – horizontal transfer from plants to humans requires some kind of vector, some kind of way of transferring it and I'm certainly not aware of any way of doing it,

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Paul Anderson asked the Naked Scientists: Hi Chris and team, We are what we eat. There is concern about mad cow disease. If I eat a malformed apple, what are the chances that whatever caused the malformation might adapt to affect me in some adverse way? Could there ever be a cross over from plant to human of diseases, etc? When I bang my elbow, it bruises and then heals. A similar thing happens when a tree gets nicked on the trunk. A scab forms and it 'heals'. However, drop a peach and it bruises and goes bad. Comments? Regards Paul NZ What do you think? Paul Anderson , Tue, 3rd Mar 2009

If you're worried that a mutated gene from a mutant plant might somehow get into your DNA and mutate you as well, then don't fret. Such a thing does no happen. The DNA in a mutated fruit will be digested in your stomach. Your cells have no mechanism of incorporating foreign DNA into their own genetic code. Viruses, however, may indeed be capable of doing this. Fruit, however, cannot. Supercryptid, Wed, 4th Mar 2009

If we were to be susceptible to mutations from p[lants then we should also be susceptible to their regular genes. I haven't gone green or sprouted roots, yet so I think we don't need to worry. lyner, Thu, 5th Mar 2009



Erm..... I think perhaps I'd best go see my doctor, or horticulturist!!! Don_1, Thu, 5th Mar 2009

i would be a bit worried if that could happen  but luckily it really can not. tangoblue, Fri, 21st May 2010

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