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Evolutionary history of the genus Rhamdia (Teleostei: Pimelodidae) in Central America

, : Evolutionary history of the genus Rhamdia (Teleostei: Pimelodidae) in Central America. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 25(1): 172-189

We constructed phylogenetic hypotheses for Mesoamerican Rhamdia, the only genus of primary freshwater fish represented by sympatric species across Central America. Phylogenetic relationships were inferred from analysis of 1990 base pairs (bp) of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), represented by the complete nucleotide sequences of the cytochrome b (cyt b) and the ATP synthase 8 and 6 (ATPase 8/6) genes. We sequenced 120 individuals from 53 drainages to provide a comprehensive geographic picture of Central American Rhamdia systematics and phylogeography. Phylogeographic analysis distinguished multiple Rhamdia mtDNA lineages, and the geographic congruence across evolutionarily independent Rhamdia clades indicated that vicariance has played a strong role in the Mesoamerican diversification of this genus. Phylogenetic analyses of species-level relationships provide strong support for the monophyly of a trans-Andean clade of three evolutionarily equivalent Rhamdia taxa: R. guatemalensis, R. laticauda, and R. cinerascens. Application of fish-based mitochondrial DNA clocks ticking at 1.3-1.5% sequence divergence per million years (Ma), suggests that the split between cis- and trans-Andean Rhamdia extends back about 8 Ma, and the three distinct trans-Andean Rhamdia clades split about 6 Ma ago. Thus the mtDNA divergence observed between cis- and trans-Andean Rhamdia species is too low to support an ancient colonization of Central America in the Late Cretaceous or Paleocene as had been hypothesized in one colonization model for Mesoamerican fishes. Rather the mtDNA data indicate that Rhamdia most likely colonized Central America in the late Miocene or Pliocene, promoting a strong role for the Isthmus of Panamá in the Mesoamerican expansion of this genus. Basal polytomies suggest that both the R. laticauda and R. guatemalensis clades spread rapidly across the Central American landscape, but differences in the average mtDNA genetic distances among clades comprising the two species, indicate that the R. laticauda spread and diversified across Mesoamerica about 1 million years before R. guatemalensis.


PMID: 12383759

DOI: 10.1016/s1055-7903(02)00224-5

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