Rooting Out What Happens When Plants and Trees Get Cancer

On a recent episode of SciShow, host Hank Green digs around and roots out the answer to the user-submitted question, “Do Plants Get Cancer?” to which the answer is yes, but not in the same way as humans and animals.

It’s not super easy to define what cancer is, but in humans cancer is often described as uncontrolled spread into surrounding tissues. …The advantage plants have here though is that it’s a lot harder for this uncontrolled cell division to spread to other areas in animals cancer cells invade other types of tissue by circulating around in the blood but plants don’t have a true circulatory system in the fluids they use for nutrient transport likes sap don’t have cells in them. And there’s another factor keeping cancers plant cells in place the cell wall. a rigid structure that surrounds the outside the cell and helps the plant stay upright. Those firm cell walls prevent cells from moving around within the plant, so even if it wanted to a cancer cell couldn’t break off from the tumor and go spread to other tissues It’s trap instead these cells keep dividing in place over and over again.