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Genetic relationships of cichlid fishes from Lake Malawi based on mitochondrial DNA sequences

  • Shaharior Hashem
  • Koichiro KawaiEmail author
  • Patrick Senam Kofi Fatsi
  • Atsuya Kodama
  • Hidetoshi Saito
Research paper


The purpose of this study was to estimate the genetic distance, diversity and relationship of two large groups of Malawian cichlid, ‘mbuna’ living in rocky area and feeding on algae, and ‘non-mbuna’ in sandy area feeding on various items. A total of 78 species from 42 genera was determined for the DNA sequence of the mitochondrial control region. In a genetic tree, constructed with Kimura-2 parameter as a distance by NJ method, mbuna created only one group whereas non-mbuna created four groups by a single or multiple genera. Some genera, such as Campsochromis and Labeotropheus with no genetic diversity within genus constructed a small congeneric clade, suggesting genetic homogeneity. In contrast, some genera, such as Otopharynx and Placidochromis with a high genetic diversity, participated in multiple groups including mbuna and non-mbuna, suggesting genetic heterogeneity. The largest Group A, exclusively composed by non-mbuna, showed an apparently high average genetic distance whereas Group D, in which all mbuna participated, showed an apparently low average genetic distance. It was suggested that non-mbuna have attained much higher diversification than mbuna. This different diversification may partly be attributable to sexual selection strongly exerted in rocky habitats in contrast to strong ecological selection in sandy area.


Cichlids Sexual selection Ecological selection Lake Malawi Mitochondrial DNA 



The authors would like to thank Mr. N. Yoshikawa, N. Nakamura, T. Kushida and Ms. E. Yamashita for rearing and feeding the Cichlid Fishes. First author gratefully acknowledges to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan, for providing the financial support through Japanese Government (MONBUKAGAKUSHO: MEXT) Scholarship. The experiments comply with the current laws of the country.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Limnology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaharior Hashem
    • 1
    • 2
  • Koichiro Kawai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Patrick Senam Kofi Fatsi
    • 1
  • Atsuya Kodama
    • 1
  • Hidetoshi Saito
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Bioresource Science, Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for LifeHiroshima UniversityHigashi-hiroshimaJapan
  2. 2.Department of AquacultureBangladesh Agricultural UniversityMymensinghBangladesh

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