, Volume 155, Issue 2, pp 243-247
Date: 10 Jun 2008

Molecular dating and biogeography of the neritic krill Nyctiphanes


The genus Nyctiphanes (Malacostraca, Euphausiacea) comprises four neritic species that display antitropical geographic distribution in the Pacific (N. simplex and N. australis) and Atlantic (N. couchii and N. capensis) Oceans. We studied the origin of this distribution applying methods for phylogenetic reconstruction and molecular dating of nodes using a Bayesian MCMC analysis and the DNA sequence information contained in mtDNA 16S rDNA and cytochrome oxidase (COI). We tested hypotheses of vicariance by contrasting the time estimates of cladogenesis with the onset of the major barriers to ocean circulation. It was estimated that Nyctiphanes originated in the Pacific Ocean during the Miocene, with a lower limit of 18 miilion years ago (Mya). An Atlantic–Pacific cladogenic event (95% HPD 3.2–9.6) took place after the closure of the Tethyan Sea, suggesting that dispersal occurred from the Indo-Pacific, most likely via southern Africa. Similarly, the antitropical distribution pattern observed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean likely resulted from recent Pliocene–Pleistocene (95% HPD 1.0–4.97) northward dispersal from the southern hemisphere. Our results imply that dispersal appears to have had a significant role to play in the evolution of this group.

Communicated by T. Reusch.