Can exact same species of plant have a distinct genome from others of same exact species growing nearby or in a different place/country etc. ?

Can a leaf be traced to the the exact plant based on DNA if we were to be given DNA of the "parent" plant of the leaf, and two test plants' DNA of exactly the same species?

  • $\begingroup$ It's kind of an interesting question. The answer is yes for sexually reproducing species of plants, but plants that reproduce clonally can form massive genetically identical colonies $\endgroup$
    – C_Z_
    Mar 22, 2016 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ probably yes for both sexually and asesually reproducing plants as well as i am taking a wild guess on cloned species also, because of natural and artificial mutations. $\endgroup$ Jul 6, 2017 at 8:23

2 Answers 2


Short answer: Yes!

Now for the longer answer. Yes, they do have distinct genes in general, but what you may see as different plants can also sometimes be clones. For example Quaking Aspen Trees which commonly grow in clonal colonies.

If you had a massive database of genetic material from plants you would be able to trace it. You may be able to, by doing sampling, work out where a sample was located geographically.


We need to distinguish plants which replicate by sexual reproduction from those who reproduce asexual.

Due to the higher recombination rate in sexual reproduction it should be easy to find your plant to which the leaf corresponds to. Because you can see lot of single nucleotide polymorphisms and maybe other changes in the DNA unique to the plant whose leaf you found.

If your plant species reproduce by vegetative reproduction it could be more difficult because you can not find a lot of DNA changes making your plant unique. But since there are some mutations in DNA from vegetative reproducing plants (see here and here) you probably should try to find them.


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