|Title||Basal cactus phylogeny: Implications of Pereskia (Cactaceae) paraphyly for the transition to the cactus life form|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2005|
|Authors||Edwards EJ, Nyffeler R, Donoghue MJ|
|Journal||American Journal of Botany|
|Date Published||2005 Jul|
The cacti are well-known desert plants, widely recognized by their specialized growth form and essentially leafless condition. Pereskia, a group of 17 species with regular leaf development and function, is generally viewed as representing the “ancestral cactus,” although its placement within Cactaceae has remained uncertain. Here we present a new hypothesis of phylogenetic relationships at the base of the Cactaceae, inferred from DNA sequence data from five gene regions representing all three plant genomes. Our data support a basal split in Cactaceae between a clade of eight Pereskia species, centered around the Caribbean basin, and all other cacti. Two other Pereskia clades, distributed mostly in the southern half of South America, are part of a major clade comprising Maihuenia plus Cactoideae, and Opuntioideae. This result highlights several events in the early evolution of the cacti. First, during the transition to stem-based photosynthesis, the evolution of stem stomata and delayed bark formation preceded the evolution of the stem cortex into a specialized photosynthetic tissue system. Second, the basal split in cacti separates a northern from an initially southern cactus clade, and the major cactus lineages probably originated in southern or west-central South America.
Basal cactus phylogeny: Implications of <i>Pereskia</i> (Cactaceae) paraphyly for the transition to the cactus life form