Chapter

Evolution and Systematics

Robert S. Wallace and Arthur C. Gibson

in Cacti

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780520231573
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520927889 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520231573.003.0001
Evolution and Systematics

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Cactaceae is classified within the order of Caryophyllales and includes approximately 1,600 species of plants. Phylogenetic placement within the Caryophyllales is undisputed, because cacti and other families within the order share synapomorphies or derived characters. An example is the occurrence of betalains, a class of nitrogenous pigments derived from tyrosine. This chapter discusses the evolution of the Cactaceae family, paying special attention to molecular and genetic approaches for analyzing the morphological distinctiveness and monophyly of Cactaceae. It highlights the importance of molecular systematic studies in providing new insights into the origin and diversification of cacti. The combination of molecular, morphological, and biogeographical data provide the best estimate of phylogeny within the Cactaceae and a more reliable source of biological information about this family.

Keywords: Cactaceae; Caryophyllales; synapomorphies; betalains; evolution; diversification

Chapter.  11041 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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