A Phylogenomics Approach to Resolving Evolutionary Relationships in Cactaceae: Chollas, Prickly Pears and Andean Relatives

Lucas Majure, biologist of New World succulents, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix

Lucas C. Majure became biologist of New World succulents at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix in fall 2014. His work as a plant systematist is focused on understanding the biogeography, evolutionary relationships and morphological evolution of cacti throughout the Americas but with a focus on tropical regions, such as the Greater Antilles (primarily Cuba and Hispaniola) and Peru. 

The Cactaceae are an iconic clade (ca. 1400-1800 spp.) of mostly succulent angiosperms endemic to the Americas. The two most speciose clades within the family are subfamilies Cactoideae and Opuntioideae. The subfamily Opuntioideae consists of roughly 355 species and is found throughout the Americas from Patagonia to Saskatchewan. The group is well known for certain members, such as the prickly pear cacti (Opuntia) and chollas (Cylindropuntia), which are used by an array of animals, including humans, for food, medicine and as ornamentals. Phylogenetic relationships among the three major clades of subfamily Opuntioideae have mostly been obscured by the lack of resolution and taxon sampling in phylogenetic studies. However, the high degree of hybridization and subsequent genome doubling (polyploidy) in the group also has been a factor impeding robust phylogenetic topologies.

In this colloquium on Wednesday Nov. 8, Majure will talk about his use of a phylogenomics approach based on chloroplast genome data (i.e., plastomes) to resolve relationships among major clades and subclades within this group. Plastome data prove to be highly useful for resolving most of the recalcitrant nodes within subfamily Opuntioideae. The session will be held from 3-4 p.m. in Santan Hall, room 135.

Majure earned a doctorate in botany at the University of Florida in 2012 and carried out post-doc work there, investigating Greater Antillean members of the family Melastomataceae. 

This seminar is part of the Science and Mathematics Colloquium Series, organized by the Faculty of Science and Mathematics in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at ASU's Polytechnic campus. Faculty and practitioners discuss their current research and field projects in the series, held throughout the academic year at the ASU Polytechnic campus. All seminars are free and open to the public.

Department: 
Faculty of Science and Mathematics, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts
Contact: 
Steven Saul
Phone: 
480-965-6534
Location: 
Santan Hall, room 135
Campus: 
Polytechnic campus
Price: 
Free