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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2004 Mar;30(3):599-614.

Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of the Malagasy and South Asian cichlids (Teleostei: Perciformes: Cichlidae).

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Department of Ichthyology, Division of Vertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, 79th Street at Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, USA.


Phylogenetic relationships of the Malagasy and South Asian cichlids are investigated using nucleotide characters from two mitochondrial genes, a 544 bp region of the large ribosomal subunit (16S) and a 649 bp region of cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI). This is the first molecular analysis to include a thorough taxonomic sampling of all Malagasy-South Asian genera, and a near complete taxonomic inventory of all valid species. Parsimony analysis of the combined data set (1193 aligned nucleotide positions) results in a single, completely resolved phylogenetic hypothesis. Results of this analysis, and that based on more comprehensive taxonomic sampling across Cichlidae for 16S alone (554 bp for 73 taxa), indicate that the Malagasy cichlids are paraphyletic, whereas the Malagasy and South Asian cichlids comprise a monophyletic group. In both analyses, the African and Neotropical assemblages are monophyletic. The Malagasy-South Asian cichlids are not recovered as plesiomorphic members of the family in either analysis. Two major clades are recovered within the Malagasy-South Asian assemblage and given subfamilial rank, Etroplinae, comprising Paretroplus (Madagascar) and Etroplus (southern India and Sri Lanka), and Ptychochrominae, comprising Ptychochromis, Ptychochromoides, and Oxylapia, all endemic Malagasy genera. Placement of the endemic Malagasy genus Paratilapia is equivocal depending on the gene fragment(s) analyzed. Inter- and intrageneric relationships within Ptychochrominae and Etroplinae are presented and discussed. The hypothesis of relationships for Cichlidae based on nucleotide characters from 16S alone, arguably the most comprehensive and broadly sampled data set across all major geographic assemblages to date, is congruent with prevailing hypotheses regarding the sequence of Gondwanan fragmentation and a vicariance scenario to explain the current distribution of cichlid fishes.

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