The group of cacti PILOSOCEREUS AURISETUS is composed of eight species occurring associated with rock outcrops in xeric environments in Northeast, Midwest and Southeast Brazil. The disjunct distribution pattern of populations, along with genetic data suggests that the evolution of this group was influenced by vicariant events involving changes in species distribution and secondary contact with gene flow. Current levels of gene flow are very low and in general the genetic groups are better explained by the geographic distribution of populations than by the current taxonomy. In the Midwest, the genetic structure of P. machrisii, the most widely distributed species, was very complex and can be related to the great morphologic diversity of this region. However the low variability in the markers used and the low sampling in this region did not allow a further understanding of this structure. The aim of this project is to use genomic data to be obtained by next generation sequencing to develop a large set of highly variable microsatellite markers and with uniformity in their mode of evolution. These markers will be used along with an extensive sampling in the Midwest to investigate the history of P. AURISETUS group diversification.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: