If a plant, say a ficus or a teak, as a sapling were exposed to radiation, and a tree of the same species were present at the same distance, which of the two would be more likely to mutate?

  • $\begingroup$ Aren't they all trees in the end, anyway? $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Jul 25, 2012 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ Either is an ecosystem in itself. $\endgroup$
    – Everyone
    Jul 25, 2012 at 13:20
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Ionizing radiation is harmful because of damage to genes. It's thus far more damaging, to everything, earlier in the development cycle; down to the point of the very first cell, where relatively small doses of radiation can render the potential organism non-viable (like killing the cell outright). Random mutations all over a tree are unlikely to amount to much $\endgroup$
    – Ben Brocka
    Jul 26, 2012 at 1:40
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    $\begingroup$ Ben raises a good point about this question actually - @Everyone are you interested in the effect of radiation on a single cell sampled from a large tree (compared to a single cell in a sapling), or on the organisms as a whole? If it is the whole organisms, Ben has the correct answer I believe; mutations (and thus radiation) will be less of a problem to a plant once it is larger, as any cutting of the plant could go on to form a new tree; each individual cell becomes less important. (See biology.stackexchange.com/questions/2055/… out of interest) $\endgroup$
    – Luke
    Jul 26, 2012 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ Depending on what plant/tree is concerned, I could also imagine things like bark absorbing some of the radiation being emitted. $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2012 at 20:28


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