Pereskia and the Origin of the Cactus Life‐Form

  title={Pereskia and the Origin of the Cactus Life‐Form},
  author={Erika J Edwards and Michael J. Donoghue},
  journal={The American Naturalist},
  pages={777 - 793}
The cactus life-form is cited as an example of a tight relationship between organism form and function: a succulent, long-lived, photosynthetic stem allows cacti to survive long periods of drought while maintaining a positive tissue water status. [] Key Method We selected seven Pereskia species, representing both clades, and characterized their water relations by measuring a suite of physiological traits in wild populations.

Anatomical variation in Cactaceae and relatives: Trait lability and evolutionary innovation.

It is hypothesized that high lability of many putative "precursor" traits may have been critical in generating the organismal context necessary for the evolution of an efficient and integrated photosynthetic stem.

Variations On A Theme: Repeated Evolution Of Succulent Life Forms In the Portulacineae (Caryophyllales)

It is suggested that this diversity provides a unique opportunity to evaluate early cactus evolution within a richer contextual framework and several hypothetical “pre-adaptations” and conditions in ancestral Portulacineae that may have promoted the repeated evolution of unusual succulent life forms are discussed.

Evolution of leaf and habit characters in Opuntioideae (Cactaceae): reconstruction of ancestral form

Diversity in Opuntioid morphological features (below ground storage organs, stem shape, and leaf persistence) in the phylogenetic context shows a trend towards increased size and surface area.


A combined analysis of ndhF, matK, and nadl sequence data from the chloroplast and the mitochondrial genomes indicates that the tribe Anacampseroteae is the sister group of the family Cactaceae.

The evolutionary history of Fouquieriaceae (Ericales): biogeography, growth habit, habitat colonization, and chromosome evolution

The results suggest that the ancestral lineage of Foquieriaceae was originated in desert habitats in central–southern Mexico with a basal chromosome number of n = 12, and a succulent habit, all of which may have allowed the dispersion of polyploid species to newly developed dry environments during the Late Miocene.

Correlated evolution of stem and leaf hydraulic traits in Pereskia (Cactaceae).

  • E. Edwards
  • Environmental Science
    The New phytologist
  • 2006
It appears that many stem and leaf hydraulic properties thought to be critical to whole-plant water use have not evolved in response to habitat shifts in water availability, and the need for a lineage-based approach to understand the relative roles of functional traits in ecological adaptation is highlighted.

Insights on the evolution of plant succulence from a remarkable radiation in Madagascar (Euphorbia).

This work uses multivariate ordination of 19 climate variables to identify links between particular climate variables and three major forms of succulence-succulent leaves, cactiform stem succulence, and tubers, and confirms that plant water storage is associated with the two components of aridity, temperature, and precipitation.

Molecular phylogeny and character evolution in terete-stemmed Andean opuntias (Cactaceae-Opuntioideae).

Evolutionary history and leaf succulence as explanations for medicinal use in aloes and the global popularity of Aloe vera

Well-developed succulent leaf mesophyll tissue, an adaptive feature that likely contributed to the ecological success of the genus Aloe, is the main predictor for medicinal use among Aloe species, whereas evolutionary loss of succulence tends to be associated with losses of medicinal use.

Embryology and Seed Development in Pereskia lychnidiflora (Cactaceae)

The embryological characterization showed that basic features are homogeneous across the family and supported the placement of P. lychnidiflora as a member of one of two Pereskia clades, the one sister to remaining cacti, and the hypothesis that within the family Cactaceae, the evolutionary tendency is towards a reduction of the perisperm.



Ecological physiology of Pereskia guamacho, a cactus with leaves.

It is concluded that leaf performance is not limited by stem hydraulic capacity in this species, and that water use is conservative and tightly regulated at the leaf level.

Basal cactus phylogeny: implications of Pereskia (Cactaceae) paraphyly for the transition to the cactus life form.

A new hypothesis of phylogenetic relationships at the base of the Cactaceae is presented, inferred from DNA sequence data from five gene regions representing all three plant genomes, which support a basal split between a clade of eight Pereskia species, centered around the Caribbean basin, and all other cacti.

Molecular Phylogenetics of the Leafy Cactus Genus Pereskia (Cactaceae)

To examine interspecific relationships within Pereskia, cpDNA restriction-site data and sequences from two non-coding regions of the plastid genome—the psbA-trnH intergenic spacer and the rpl16 intron identified three major clades; the relationship between these three clades and the rest of the Cactaceae remains unresolved, but the data do suggest that PeresKia may be paraphyletic.

Anatomical Adaptations to Xeric Conditions in Maihuenia (Cactaceae), a Relictual, Leaf-Bearing Cactus

  • J. Mauseth
  • Environmental Science
    Journal of Plant Research
  • 1999
Although closely related, maihuenias have fewer relictual features than do pereskias, and plants of Pereskia probably are more similar to the ancestral cacti.

Photosynthetic Pathway Variation in Leafy Members of Two Subfamilies of the Cactaceae

The results of this study indicate that members of the Pereskioideae should be restricted to moister habitats or must restrict the timing of growth to wet seasons, whereas the observed combinations of the C3 and CAM pathways in the opuntioid taxa should prove beneficial in conserving water in the sporadically arid tropical and subtropical habitats of these plants.

The Occurrence and Phylogenetics of Crassulacean Acid Metabolism in the Portulacaceae

The phylogenetic and physiological data in the Portulacaceae indicate a scheme for the evolution of CAM, possibly starting with changes in leaf anatomy, then progressing to increased enzyme activity with increased acid fluctuations, and finally ending with the development of the full CAM pathway.

Dark and disturbed: a new image of early angiosperm ecology

It is hypothesize that the earliest angiosperms were woody plants that grew in dimly lit, disturbed forest understory habitats and/or shady streamside settings, which may have restricted the diversity of pre-Aptian angiosPerms and living basal lineages.

Adaptation, Niche Conservatism, and Convergence: Comparative Studies of Leaf Evolution in the California Chaparral

  • D. Ackerly
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    The American Naturalist
  • 2004
The results illustrate how biogeographic history may influence patterns of trait evolution and adaptation and highlight the contribution of ecological sorting processes to the assembly and functional ecology of regional biotas.

Explosive Radiation of Malpighiales Supports a Mid‐Cretaceous Origin of Modern Tropical Rain Forests

This case illustrates that dated phylogenies can provide an important new source of evidence bearing on the timing of major environmental changes, which may be especially useful when fossil evidence is limited or controversial.

Intraspecific variability and timing in ancestral ecology reconstruction: a test case from the cape flora.

It is inferred that the most recent common ancestor of Thamnochortus to have been a post-fire resprouting species distributed on rocky, well-drained, sandstone-derived soils at lower-middle elevations, in regions of moderate levels of yearly rainfall.