The cacti are renowned desert plants of the New World. The are typically leafless, spine-bearing stem succulents. Species of Pereskia possess broad, regular leaves and have been viewed as being representative of ancestral cacti. A number of previous studies have attempted to resolve phylogenetic relationships within Pereskia and between Pereskia and other cacti. Here, we present the results of a joint analysis along with hypothesis testing using datasets previously published independently by each author. This study clearly shows a basal split in the cacti between a clade of Caribbean-basin-centered Pereskia species and all other cacti. Furthermore, hypothesis testing strongly supports the basal Pereskia hypothesis over an alternative hypothesis in which the Opuntioideae form the basal split in the cacti (although the latter hypothesis was not statistically rejected).
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Vol. 2008 • No. 14