Abstract The study of transferability of simple sequence repeats (SSR) among closely related species is a well-known strategy in population genetics, however transferability among distinct genera is less common. We tested cross-genera SSR amplification in the family Cactaceae using a total of 20 heterologous primers previously developed for the genera Ariocarpus, Echinocactus, Polaskia and Pilosocereus, in four taxa of the genus Cereus: C. fernambucensis subsp. fernambucensis, C. fernambucensis subsp. sericifer, C. jamacaru and C. insularis. Nine microsatellite loci were amplified in Cereus resulting in 35.2% of success in transferability, which is higher than the average rate of 10% reported in the literature for cross-genera transferability in eudicots. The genetic variation in the transferred markers was sufficient to perform standard clustering analysis, indicating each population as a cohesive genetic cluster. Overall, the amount of genetic variation found indicates that the transferred SSR markers might be useful in large-scale population studies within the genus Cereus.