, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 323-332

Mitochondrial genome and a nuclear gene indicate a novel phylogenetic position of deep-sea tube-eye fish (Stylephoridae)

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Abstract

The rare, monotypic deep-sea fish family Stylephoridae has long been considered a member of the order Lampridiformes (opahs, velifers, ribbonfishes), and no systematic ichthyologist has questioned its placement within the order for over 80 years. Recently three individuals of Stylephorus chordatus were collected from different oceans, and we sequenced the whole mitochondrial genome and a partial nuclear recombination activating gene 1 (RAG1) gene sequences for each specimen. We aligned these sequences with those available from higher teleosts, including representative lampridiforms, and constructed two separate datasets from the sequences. The resulting trees derived from partitioned Bayesian analyses strongly indicated that S. chordatus is not a lampridiform but is closely related to the order Gadiformes (cod and their relatives). Lampridiformes is diagnosed on the basis of four synapomorphies, three of which are correlated with the rare and possibly unique ability to extend both the maxilla and premaxilla as a unit during feeding. Stylephorus also possesses such unique ability, but lacks two and possibly three of the four synapomorphies, suggesting that further morphological analysis is needed. Considering its unique morphologies with no indication of affinities within Gadiformes (or any other presently recognized order), the present results warrant a recognition of the new order for S. chordatus in fish systematics.