Can plants get cancer? This is a question that scientists have been asking for years. The short answer is, unfortunately, yes. Plants can develop tumors just like animals can. Even soil particles and dead cells can make the body think there are problems with the immune system when they really are just parts of healthy cells. That’s why some plants get cancer while others don’t.
The word “cancer” comes from a Greek word meaning “bad growth”. The scientific term for tumor is “neoplasm” which means “a form”. Just like all other forms of life, plant cells do get cancer in one form or another. The most common form is referred to as a “cellular carcinoma” (can also be called a tumor) and can result in the death of the affected cell.
How can plants get cancer when the cell walls are healthy? When soil particles, dirt, dead cells, or bacteria get inside a living organism it can cause a response in the cell walls. In the case of plant cells this response causes the cells to divide uncontrollably and form tumors. Sometimes tumors can be removed or changed by surgery but most will continue to grow out of control. It takes the intervention of a biochemist, immunologist, or other qualified medical professional to remove or kill the tumor.
Can plants get cancer in the form of “crown galls”? This is a rare condition where large groups of tumor-like cells form on the surface of an organ. Although it is not as common as cell cancers, some cases do occur. A type of fungi called “ectrogens”, or substances that mimic estrogen, can cause the body to release large amounts of the hormone. If enough of this hormone gets into the body, then the normal functions of the organ can be affected.
Can plant tumors and gallstones are found on the same specimen? If two types of cells can be discovered on the same tissue sample then they are considered to be from the same individual. However, because some types of DNA are different between species, and even between species of the same kind, occasionally two samples can be discovered to have different DNA sequences. When this occurs the resulting combination can look very similar to each other and can lead to the identification of two very dissimilar diseases as being the same disease.
Can plant tumors and gallstones are diagnosing using traditional methods? Unfortunately, traditional methods of tissue sampling, such as biopsy, can only provide a diagnosis if a pathologist can make the diagnosis using certain criteria. For example, a blood test called ACTH stimulation can confirm that a tumor is present, but it cannot say for sure if it is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If the growth is in an area of the body where cells grow rapidly then it is most likely cancerous. Therefore, to determine whether the tissue sample tested positive for cancer, a pathologist must look for other symptoms, such as:
Can plants get cancer? Agrobacterium tumefaciens and crown galls are both examples of organisms that can grow rapidly and develop into cancer. Unfortunately, once these organisms form tumors they cannot be removed unless surgically removed; therefore, it is very difficult to know if plant tumors and gallstones are the same without laboratory testing.
How can plants get cancer? Unfortunately, answering this question is not as easy as one might think. It is important to remember that, despite the fact that plants appear to exhibit life on their own, they need humans to survive. In order to eat and survive, they must find a way to penetrate human skin and enter the bloodstream where oxygen and nutrients will provide them with the energy they need to grow.