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Mitochondrial DNA. 2012 Aug;23(4):264-77. doi: 10.3109/19401736.2012.690746.

Molecular phylogenetic relationships of family Haemulidae (Perciformes: Percoidei) and the related species based on mitochondrial and nuclear genes.

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College of Animal Science, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China.


Haemulidae species are morphologically diversified fishes with wondrous and changeable coloration. These species are prevalent in global tropical, subtropical, and temperate inshore reef areas. Previous morphological classification within Haemulidae and some related families was problematic, and no comprehensive molecular evaluation was conducted on these groups. In this study, we revealed the first molecular phylogenetic analysis involving representative species within Haemulidae and the relevant families (Nemipteridae and Teraponidae). The analysis was performed using both mitochondrial DNA (16S rRNA) and nuclear DNA (TMO-4c4) genes to construct maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian analysis tree topologies. The molecular phylogeny recovered well-resolved relationships within Haemulidae species and the problematic taxa. In the trees, the Haemulidae species (except for genus Hapalogenys) were divided into two distinct sister lineages, including grunts (Haemulinae) and sweetlips (Plectorhynchinae). Hapalogenys was positioned outside the major Haemulidae tribe and formed an independent group, which challenged the traditional taxonomy that Hapalogenys was classified into Haemulidae. The results did agree with most current studies that Hapalogenys was only distantly related to Haemulidae and could potentially be removed from this family. Additionally, the genus Diagramma was observed to be tightly grouped inside the clade Plectorhinchus, indicating its highly close affinity within Plectorhinchus. Regarding interfamily relationships, the phylogenetic constructions suggested distant relationships within two pairs: between Scolopsis and Haemulidae and between Teraponidae and Haemulidae. Scolopsis was revealed to be highly close with Nemipteridae, and Teraponidae was clustered in an independent group, which was in accordance with most current taxonomic studies.

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