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Citation for Study 1396

About Citation title: "Basal cactus phylogeny: Pereskia paraphyly and implications for early cactus evolution".
About This study was previously identified under the legacy study ID S1327 (Status: Published).


Edwards E., Nyffeler R., & Donoghue M.J. 2005. Basal cactus phylogeny: Pereskia paraphyly and implications for early cactus evolution. American Journal of Botany, 92: 1177-1188.


  • Edwards E.
  • Nyffeler R.
  • Donoghue M.J.


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, though 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.

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