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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2019 Dec 16;145:106711. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2019.106711. [Epub ahead of print]

Evolutionary units delimitation and continental multilocus phylogeny of the hyperdiverse catfish genus Hypostomus.

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Department of Genetics and Evolution, University of Geneva, Quai Ernest-Ansermet 30, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland.
Laboratorio de Sistemática y Biología Evolutiva, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Paseo del Bosque S/N, B1900FWA, La Plata, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Argentina.
Museu de Ciências e Tecnologia, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Ipiranga 6681, 90619-900 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.
Coordenação de Biodiversidade, Programa de Coleções Científicas e Biológicas, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Av. André Araújo 2936, 69060-001 Manaus, AM, Brazil.
Museu de Biologia Professor Mello Leitão, Instituto Nacional da Mata Atlântica, Av. José Ruschi 4, 29650-000 Santa Teresa, ES, Brazil.
Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg. Haraldsgatan 1, 413 14 Gothenburg, Sweden.
Departamento de Morfologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Estadual de São Paulo, Rua Professor Doutor Antonio Celso Wagner Zanin 250, 18618-689 Botucatu, SP, Brazil.
Laboratório de Toxicologia Ambiental, Laboratório de Genética Molecular de Microrganismos, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Av. Brasil 4365, 21040-900 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.
Departamento de Ciências do Mar, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Av. Doutor Carvalho de Mendonça 144, 11070-100 Santos, SP, Brazil.
Department of Herpertology and Ichthyology, Museum of Natural History of Geneva, Route de Malagnou 1, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland.
Departamento de Vertebrados, Vista Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Quinta da Boa, 20940-040 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.
Department of Genetics and Evolution, University of Geneva, Quai Ernest-Ansermet 30, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address:


With 149 currently recognized species, Hypostomus is one of the most species-rich catfish genera in the world, widely distributed over most of the Neotropical region. To clarify the evolutionary history of this genus, we reconstructed a comprehensive phylogeny of Hypostomus based on four nuclear and two mitochondrial markers. A total of 206 specimens collected from the main Neotropical rivers were included in the present study. Combining morphology and a Bayesian multispecies coalescent (MSC) approach, we recovered 85 previously recognized species plus 23 putative new species, organized into 118 'clusters'. We presented the Cluster Credibility (CC) index that provides numerical support for every hypothesis of cluster delimitation, facilitating delimitation decisions. We then examined the correspondence between the morphologically identified species and their inter-specific COI barcode pairwise divergence. The mean COI barcode divergence between morphological sisters species was 1.3 ± 1.2%, and only in 11% of the comparisons the divergence was ≥2%. This indicates that the COI barcode threshold of 2% classically used to delimit fish species would seriously underestimate the number of species in Hypostomus, advocating for a taxon-specific COI-based inter-specific divergence threshold to be used only when approximations of species richness are needed. The phylogeny of the 108 Hypostomus species, together with 35 additional outgroup species, confirms the monophyly of the genus. Four well-supported main lineages were retrieved, hereinafter called super-groups: Hypostomus cochliodon, H. hemiurus, H. auroguttatus, and H. plecostomus super-groups. We present a compilation of diagnostic characters for each super-group. Our phylogeny lays the foundation for future studies on biogeography and on macroevolution to better understand the successful radiation of this Neotropical fish genus.


Cluster credibility index; DNA barcode; Hidden diversity; Hypostominae; Multispecies coalescent approach; Species delimitation

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