To mutate is to change, especially genetically. When plants mutate, their genes change in a way that makes them look, grow, or reproduce differently.
The word mutate comes up most often in biology, to describe the natural — or artificial — process of genetic change. If a scientist alters an animal’s DNA, for example, it mutates. Another way that scientists mutate organisms is in food production: often the genes in a plant are changed in a way that helps it resist insects or weeds, or makes it grow much larger than normal. The Latin root word of mutate is mutare, which simply means "to change."