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Can plants get cancer? © Alamy

Can plants get cancer?

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I've never seen a tumour on a tree...

Asked by: Yasmin Caine, Cheshire

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Yes. Crown galls are a kind of plant cancer, caused by the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens (pictured). This causes uncontrolled growth of plant cells around the infection, just like a tumour. Other tumours can be triggered by fungi or physical damage.

But plant cells are anchored in place by the cell walls, so plant cancers never spread far or metastasise to other tissues.

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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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