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Author Topic: Do plants get cancer?  (Read 7937 times)

Offline thedoc

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Do plants get cancer?
« on: 22/01/2014 15:35:28 »
Can plants get cancer?
Asked by Rob Barringer

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« Last Edit: 22/01/2014 15:35:28 by _system »


Offline Professor Karmadillo

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Do plants get cancer?
« Reply #1 on: 26/09/2011 10:28:47 »
As I understand it there are two sides to cancer - the initial cells going rogue and then the spread of the cancerous cells. In plants the second aspect is missing as the xylem/phloem carry nutrients but not cells. They are not the same as the lymphatic system which carries around cells and I believe are how cancers spread. In plants the cells tend to stay in a fixed position in the framework they are given.

So they may or may not go rogue but the spread of cells is limited.

Offline The science enthusiast

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Do plants get cancer?
« Reply #2 on: 05/10/2011 20:29:29 »
Apoptosis is your answer. Basically when plants have damaged/cancerous cells they can force the cell to commit suicide so as soon as there is a cancer in a cell the plant can destroy it before it spreads and causes widespread damage in the plant

Offline CliffordK

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Do plants get cancer?
« Reply #3 on: 05/10/2011 23:46:35 »
Burls are common.

Apparently they are generally considered benign growths, and may be from multiple causes from infectious to injuries to potentially a genetic anomaly.

One of the things mentioned is the movement of cells.

Humans have macrophages that can purposefully move through the blood vessels and lymphatic system, as well as entering tissues.  One of the hallmarks of metastatic cancer is essentially the ability for cancer cells to uninhibit the macrophage genes, and get the ability to move and invade other tissues. 

If plants and trees don't have the equivalent of macrophages, then it might make the difference between a benign tumor, and an invasive cancer, with the trees not having the ability for the tumor to invade distant tissues.
« Last Edit: 06/10/2011 00:35:00 by CliffordK »

Offline Dimz

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Do plants get cancer?
« Reply #4 on: 06/10/2011 19:17:11 »
Clifford, that's very interesting, I shall have to investigate further into any immune cells plants may have.

And science enthusiast, surely a cancerous cell by its very nature is one that can overcome apoptosis, there has to be loads of mutations of a cell in order for it to acquire cancerous properties, such as proliferation, the loss of apoptosis function, and quite a few other hurdles that would otherwise reduce the cell growth and cell death that would normally occur.

Of course, perhaps the apoptosis genes in plants are so sensitive that the smallest mutation in them causes the cell to die, I wouldn't know!

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Do plants get cancer?
« Reply #4 on: 06/10/2011 19:17:11 »


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