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Mol Biol Evol. 1994 Jul;11(4):691-703.

Mitochondrial phylogeny of the Lamprologini, the major substrate spawning lineage of cichild fishes from Lake Tanganyika in eastern Africa.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, State University of New York at Stony Brook.


Lake Tanganyika harbors the oldest, morphologically and behaviorally most diverse flock of cichlid species. While the cichlids in Lakes Malawi and Victoria breed their eggs exclusively by buccal incubation (termed "mouthbrooding"), the Tanganyikan cichlid fauna comprise mouthbrooding and substrate-spawning lineages (fish spawn on rocks, and never orally incubate eggs or wrigglers). The substrate-spawning tribe Lamprologini appears to occupy a key position that might allow one to elucidate the origin of the Tanganyika flock, because five riverine (therefore nonendemic) species from the Zaire River system have been assigned to this tribe, in addition to the lake's endemic species, which make up almost 50% of all 171 species known from this lake (Poll 1986). From 16 species (18 individuals) of the tribe Lamprologini, a 402-bp segment of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene was sequenced, and, from 25 lamprologine species (35 individuals), sequences from the mitochondrial control region were obtained. To place the Lamprologini into a larger phylogenetic framework, orthologous sequences were obtained from eight nonlamprologine Tanganyikan cichlid species (13 individuals). The Lamprologini are monophyletic, and a clade of six Tanganyikan lineages of mouthbrooders, representing five tribes (Poll 1986), appears to be their sister group. Comparisons of sequence divergences of the control region indicate that the Lamprologini may be older than the endemic Tanganyikan tribe Ectodini, and short basal branches might suggest a rapid formation of lineages at an early stage of the Tanganyika radiation. It is interesting that three analyzed riverine members of the tribe form a monophyletic group; however, they are not the most ancestral branch of the Lamprologini. This might indicate that they are derived from an endemic lamprologine ancestor that left Lake Tanganyika by entering the Zaire River system. These riverine species may not have seeded the Tanganyikan radiation, as currently thought, but may have recently recolonized the river after a long period of isolation, as soon as the lake was connected to the Zaire River again about 2 Mya. Neolamprologus moorii, endemic to Lake Tanganyika, appears to represent the most basal clade of the Lamprologini. Complex breeding behavior, involving the usage of gastropod shells and associated with dwarfism, is likely to have evolved in parallel in several lineages among the Lamprologini. The tribe Lamprologini may be in need of revision, since several genera appear to be polyphyletic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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