Molecular and morphological data suggest that Spinibarbus caldwelli (Nichols) (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) is a valid species
The taxonomic problem of the cyprinid species of genus Spinibarbus, occurring in southern China and northern Vietnam, was resolved on the basis of molecular and morphological analyses. Spinibarbus caldwelli and Spinibarbus hollandi have a smooth posterior edge of the last unbranched dorsal fin ray among species in the genus. Spinibarbus caldwelli is currently regarded as a junior synonym of S. hollandi because of ambiguities in diagnostic characters. In this article, 11 mtDNA cytochrome b sequences of Spinibarbus specimens were analyzed together with Barbodes gonionotus and Puntius conchonius as outgroups. Our results showed that specimens identified as S. hollandi from Taiwan were different from those from the Asian mainland at a high level of genetic divergence (0.097–0.112), which is higher than that between the two valid species, S. sinensis and S. yunnanensis (0.089), and suggested that Taiwan specimens should be considered as a different species from the Asian mainland one. In a molecular phylogenetic analysis, the sister-group relationship between Taiwan specimens and the Asian mainland specimens was supported strongly by a high confidence level (100% in bootstrap value). Further analysis of morphological characters showed that overlap of diagnostic characters is much weaker than previously suggested. Taiwan specimens had 8 branched rays in the dorsal fin, whereas those from the mainland had almost 9–10. The molecular and morphological differences suggest S. caldwelli to be valid. The molecular divergence shows the genetic speciation of S. hollandi and S. caldwelli might have occurred 5.6–4.9 million years ago; the former could be a relict species in Taiwan, and the latter dispersed in the Asian mainland.
Key wordsSpinibarbus Cytochrome b Genetic divergence Morphological characters Speciation
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