Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 70–83 | Cite as

Evolution of the mitochondrial DNA control region in the mbuna (Cichlidae) species flock of lake Malawi, East Africa

  • Alex Parker
  • Irv Kornfield


Considerable controversy has surrounded the application of mitochondrial DNA data to reconstruction of evolutionary relationships among the endemic cichlids of Lake Malawi. Central to this debate has been the issue of whether lineage sorting is complete, and thus whether these data actually reflect species phylogeny, or simply gene genealogy. Review of all mtDNA control region sequences available for members of one monophyletic subset of this species flock, the Malawi rockfishes, or mbuna, strongly indicates that lineage sorting is incomplete: Character-based analyses of these sequences reconstruct gene, not species, interrelationships. Analysis of the pattern of nucleotide substitutions differentiating these mtDNA alleles suggests that pyrimidine residues undergo transition substitutions more often than do purines. Estimation of the magnitude of derived sequence differentiation in light of the reconstructed gene genealogy suggests that the mbuna may be of considerably more recent vintage than previous molecular characterizations have indicated.

Key words

mbuna species Lake Malawi Mitochondrial DNA control region 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex Parker
    • 1
  • Irv Kornfield
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MaineOronoUSA

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