Title
Galápagos' **Opuntia** (prickly pear) cacti: extensive morphological diversity, low genetic variability
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Publication type
article
Publication
London ,
Subject
Biology
Source (journal)
Biological journal of the Linnean Society. - London
Volume/pages
96(2009) :2 , p. 451-461
ISSN
0024-4066
ISI
000262635000018
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Due to the pronounced morphological variation and geographical distribution of Galápagos' Opuntia cacti, numerous hypotheses have been advanced regarding their radiation, diversification, and classification. The currently accepted classification is based on morphology and recognizes six species and fourteen varieties, but the plasticity of many of the characteristics renders any morphological taxonomy problematic. Our analysis of previously published morphological data agrees only partially with the current classification. We present the first molecular phylogeny of these plants. Multiple DNA sequences indicate little genetic distinction among the currently identified species, despite restricted gene flow and limited long distance dispersal within the archipelago. No clear relationship exists between morphological and genetic differences. These results suggest that both molecular and morphological data should be used in conservation planning.
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