Can plants get cancer? © Alamy

Can plants get cancer?

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

Asked by: Yasmin Caine, Cheshire


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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