, Volume 146, Issue 6, pp 505–515 | Cite as

DNA barcode sheds light on systematics and evolution of neotropical freshwater trahiras

  • U. P. JacobinaEmail author
  • S. M. Q. Lima
  • D. Gama Maia
  • G. Souza
  • H. Batalha-Filho
  • R. A. Torres
Original Paper


We assessed the presence of independent evolving lineages of the trahira, Hoplias malabaricus, one of the few freshwater fish species having wide distribution in the Neotropics which is the region with the highest global diversity of freshwater fish. To achieve that goal, 58 mitochondrial sequences of cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI; DNA barcoding) were generated from collected samples and 85 obtained from public databases, which were analyzed in comparison to chromosomal and geological data. The magnitude of genetic diversity found among different sampling sites was greater than 2%. Molecular species delimitation methods indicated the existence of a least four distinct lineages. The recognised cytotypes did not form monophyletic groups, suggesting that the karyotypic macrostructure could be a homoplastic character. The haplotype relationships suggested secondary contacts between the ecoregions of Northern and Northeastern Brazil that were shaped by coastal routes between adjacent watersheds during the Pleistocene epoch and probable exchanges of their ichthyofaunas. Our results indicated that multiple factors have driven the diversification of H. malabaricus, from ancient geological events linked to the reactivation of tectonic faults to more recent occurrences related to eustatic changes in ocean levels. Ultimately, the magnitude of its genetic diversity suggests the necessity of revising its taxonomic status.


Hoplias malabaricus Phylogeography Cryptic diversity Characiformes Species delimitation 



UPJ thanks Fundação de Amparo à Ciência e Tecnologia do Estado de Pernambuco (FACEPE) for research funding (BCT-0125-2.04/15), and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico CNPq (425080/2016-1). HBF thanks FAPESB (RED0045/2014; JCB0026/2016), CNPq (443249/2014-8) and National Institute of Science and Technology in Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Studies in Ecology and Evolution (INCT IN-TREE) for funding. SMQL thanks CNPq (552086/2011-8 and 483878/2013-8). RAT is grateful to Fundação de Amparo à Ciência e Tecnologia do estado de Pernambuco (FACEPE; grant. no. APQ-0551-2.04/15) and to CNPq for the research fellowship provided (grant no.306290/2015-4).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10709_2018_43_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 List of the 143 specimens analyzed (XLSX 15 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • U. P. Jacobina
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. M. Q. Lima
    • 2
  • D. Gama Maia
    • 3
  • G. Souza
    • 4
  • H. Batalha-Filho
    • 5
    • 6
  • R. A. Torres
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratório de Ictiologia e ConservaçãoUniversidade Federal de AlagoasPenedoBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Ictiologia Sistemática e Evolutiva, Departamento de Botânica e ZoologiaUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do NorteNatalBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratório de Genômica Evolutiva e Ambiental, Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Federal de PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  4. 4.Laboratório de Citogenética e Evolução Vegetal, Departamento de BotânicaUniversidade Federal de PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  5. 5.Laboratório de Evolução e Biogeografia, Instituto de BiologiaUniversidade Federal da BahiaSalvadorBrazil
  6. 6.National Institute of Science and Technology in Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Studies in Ecology and Evolution (INCT IN-TREE), Instituto de BiologiaUniversidade Federal da BahiaSalvadorBrazil

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