MadSci Network: Botany

Re: what does cancer look like in plants, specifically in sunflower plants?

Date: Mon Feb 12 10:26:46 2001
Posted By: Wendy Shearer, Staff, Plant Molecular BIology, Lorus Therapeutics
Area of science: Botany
ID: 979964898.Bt

Dear Jamie,

Cnacer is typically a disease only found in the Animal kingdom. It is 
caused by a mutation in either a tumour supressor gene or a mutation of an 
oncogene. This mutation causes the rapid growth of cells and they don't 
specialize. A good link to find out more about the genetics of cancer is

As for your question about what cancer looks like in plants I think you 
are referring ot a disease called Crown Gall Disease. Plants don't get the 
cancer. They do get tumour-like growths that look like they could be 
cancer and that are cuased by uncontrolled growth but it is not due to an 
error in copying the gene. It is cuase by a bacterium called Agrobacterium 
tumefaciens. This baceria actually inserts a piece of its DNA into the 
plant cells DNA and causes it to grow really fast. A link that you may 
want to check out for more info on this is There are several photos 
of the disease on this site as well. 

I couldn't find any information about the application of Allicin to 
plants. You may want to try several different ways to see waht works best. 
One would be to dissolve the drug in water and use the roots as a delivery 
method. A second would be to apply it topically to the tumour itself. You 
should also have a control plant that is not being treated so that you can 
see if the drug has any effect at all.

Good luck


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