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Am J Bot. 2003 Apr;90(4):593-602. doi: 10.3732/ajb.90.4.593.

Evolution of Polaskia chichipe (Cactaceae) under domestication in the Tehuacan Valley, central Mexico: reproductive biology.

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Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Morelia), Apartado Postal 27-3 (Xangari), Morelia, Michoacán 58089, Mexico.


Polaskia chichipe, a columnar cactus, is cultivated for its edible fruits in central Mexico. This study analyzed whether artificial selection has modified its reproduction patterns and caused barriers to pollen exchange between wild, managed in situ, and cultivated populations. Anthesis was diurnal (∼16 h in winter, ∼10 h in spring) as well as partly nocturnal (∼12 h in winter, ∼3 h in spring), and flowers were pollinated by bees, hummingbirds, and hawk moths. Manual cross-pollination was ∼37-49% effective in all populations. Self-pollination was ∼12% successful in the wild, but twice as successful (∼22-27%) in managed and cultivated populations. Diurnal pollination was ∼35-55% effective in winter and 100% in spring. Nocturnal pollination was successful only in winter (15%). Crosses among individuals were more effective within populations than among populations, including populations under a similar management regimen. The least successful crosses were between wild and cultivated populations. Flowers were produced in all populations from January to March, but flowering peaks differed by 1 mo among wild, managed, and cultivated populations and by 2 mo between wild and cultivated populations. The latter interrupted pollen exchange in May. Seeds from managed and cultivated populations germinated faster than those from wild individuals. Domestication has seemingly favored self-compatible P. chichipe plants with higher fruit yield, a longer period of fruit production, and faster seed germination, attributes that have resulted in partial reproductive barriers between wild and manipulated populations.

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