, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 148-159

Molecular phylogenetic analyses of snakeheads (Perciformes: Channidae) using mitochondrial DNA sequences

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Mitochondrial DNA sequences of approximately 1.5 kbp including the NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 (ND2) gene and its flanking gene regions were determined for 20 species from the freshwater fish family Channidae and 3 species from Nandidae, Badidae, and Osphronemidae. Channa orientalis and C. gachua had an approximately 170-bp insertion between the tRNAMet and ND2 genes, where a 5′-half of the insertion was similar to the 5′-end portion of the ND2 gene and a 3′-half was homologous to the tRNAMet gene. This insertion may thus have originated from a tandem gene duplication that occurred in a common ancestor of these two sister species. Molecular phylogenetic analyses from different tree-building methods consistently suggested the mutual monophyly of the African and Asian taxa and the existence of several clades within the Asian taxa, some of which correspond to distinct morphological features. Our molecular phylogeny clearly supported multiple independent losses of pelvic fins on Asian lineages in parallel. Divergence time estimation based on some reasonable assumptions without assuming the molecular clock suggested the early Cretaceous divergence of the African and Asian channids. The results thus support an ancient vicariant divergence of the African and Asian channids, rather than the more recent dispersal between African and Eurasian continents.