The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Takahashi, K., M. Nishida, M. Yuma, and N. Okada. 2001. Retroposition of the AFC family of SINEs (short interspersed repetitive elements) before and during the adaptive radiation of cichlid fishes in Lake Malawi and related inferences about phylogeny. Journal of Molecular Evolution 53 (4-5): 496-507.  

Lake Malawi is home to more than 450 species of endemic cichlids, which provide a spectacular example of adaptive radiation. To clarify the phylogenetic relationships among these fish, we examined the presence and absence of SINEs (short interspersed repetitive elements) at orthologous loci. We identified six loci at which a SINE sequence had apparently been specifically inserted by retroposition in the common ancestor of all the investigated species of endemic cichlids in Lake Malawi. At another locus, unique sharing of a SINE sequence was evident among all the investigated species of endemic non-Mbuna cichlids with the exception of Rhamphochromis sp. The relationships were in good agreement with those deduced in previous studies with various different markers, demonstrating that the SINE method is useful for the elucidation of phylogenetic relationships among cichlids in Lake Malawi. We also characterized a locus that exhibited transspecies polymorphism with respect to the presence or absence of the SINE sequence among non-Mbuna species. This result suggests that incomplete lineage sorting and/or interspecific hybridization might have occurred or be occurring among the species in this group, which might potentially cause misinterpretation of phylogenetic data, in particular when a single-locus marker, such as a sequence in the mitochondrial DNA, is used for analysis.




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