Cancer is the accelerated and uncontrollable growth and division of cells in an animal, but do plants get cancer? Whenever you see a tree with a big knot twisting over on a tree, that’s a plant tumour. Tumours can easily grow on plants, but they don’t seem to spread so far due to the structure of plants and the way they grow. Nevertheless, they can be extremely harmful and even fatal to a plant.
It’s Different to Animal Cancer
In humans and animals cancerous cells are brought about by a mutation in the DNA of a cell, which will then divide and replicate uncontrollably ignoring all sensory processes in place to prevent this. In plants the cells work similarly but the uncontrolled growth is usually brought about by structural damage or an infection.
Plants are at a much lower risk of getting terrible cancer than animals. In a human, a cancerous cell can move around in the blood and therefore infect other areas of the body, which can get out of control seeing as they have access to all areas of the body. In a plant this problem is not as serious, the fluid transport system doesn’t carry cells around, so there is not much risk of a cancer spreading to another part of the plant.
Plant Cells are Cancer Protection
The other thing that makes plant cancer much less dangerous is that everything in a plant cell is contained within those rigid cell walls that stop the cells moving around the plant like human cells do. They are stuck in place so the cancer finds it hard to spread. So yes, plants can get cancer, the difference is that while it can be serious, it’s nowhere near as out of control as human cancer.