The prickly problem of interwoven lineages: hybridization processes in Cactaceae

keywords: Discordant phylogenies, natural hybridization, Opuntioideae, reticulate evolution, speciation


Background: Hybridization in nature occurs in numerous botanical families. In particular, the Cactaceae family contains lots of genera in which hybridization is reported.

Questions: What are the patterns of reported natural hybridization in Cactaceae and their probable causes? Are there phylogenetic and evolutionary implications related to hybridization, particularly in Opuntioideae?

Data description: A total of 62 articles about natural hybridization and classical Cactaceae literature were reviewed.

Study site and dates: From 1900 to June 2021

Methods: A search for articles was performed in Web of Science and Google Scholar with the keywords "Cactaceae hybridization", for time span "1900 to 2021" and included information from classic family-specific monographs.

Results: Natural hybrids in Cactaceae occur in subfamilies, Cactoideae and Opuntioideae. There is evidence of nonselective mechanisms of reproductive isolation, but only for few taxa. For Cactoideae members the main approach used was morphological description, and the tribe with the highest number of natural hybrids was Trichocereeae. In Opuntioideae, the reviewed articles performed mostly chromosome counts, morphometric and phylogenetic analyses, and showed the highest number of natural hybrids.

Conclusions: It has been suggested that hybridization impacts the evolution of Cactoideae and Opuntioideae, but few studies have formally tested this hypothesis. In Cactoideae, we found only descriptive evidences of hybridization; therefore, previous statements suggesting an important role of hybridization in the evolution of Cactoideae should be supported by performing formal analyses. For the postulation that hybridization impacts the evolution of Opuntioideae, we found formal evidence supporting hybridization hypothesis unlike what we found in Cactoideae.


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The prickly problem of interwoven lineages: hybridization processes in Cactaceae


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How to Cite
Granados-Aguilar, X., Rosas, U., González-Rodríguez, A., & Arias, S. (2022). The prickly problem of interwoven lineages: hybridization processes in Cactaceae. Botanical Sciences, 100(4), 797-813.