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Nature. 1990 Oct 11;347(6293):550-3.

Monophyletic origin of Lake Victoria cichlid fishes suggested by mitochondrial DNA sequences.

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Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720.


Lake Victoria, together with its satellite lakes, harbours roughly 200 endemic forms of cichlid fishes that are classified as 'haplochromines' and yet the lake system is less than a million years old. This 'flock' has attracted attention because of the possibility that it evolved within the lake from one ancestral species and that biologists are thus presented with a case of explosive evolution. Within the past decade, however, morphology has increasingly emphasized the view that the flock may be polyphyletic. We sequenced up to 803 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA from 14 representative Victorian species and 23 additional African species. The flock seems to be monophyletic, and is more akin to that from Lake Malawi than to species from Lake Tanganyika; in addition, it contains less genetic variation than does the human species, and there is virtually no sharing of mitochondrial DNA types among species. These results confirm that the founding event was recent.

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