Phylogeny and biogeographic history of hake (genus Merluccius), inferred from mitochondrial DNA control-region sequences
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Phylogenetic analyses of the left domain of the mitochondrial DNA control-region sequence have been used to examine the relationships among species of the genus Merluccius (Rafinesque, 1810), and to compare these with hypotheses based on morphological, meristic and allozyme characters. Analysis of aligned sequences revealed that transition bias was much lower than in mammalian mtDNA, and that nucleotide composition of control-region sequences was biased toward A and T. We have roughly calibrated a molecular clock for the genus, based on the rise of the Isthmus of Panamá, which is believed to have created a barrier to dispersal between marine species of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Our mtDNA-based phylogeny was highly congruent with allozyme-based phylogenies, but poorly so with a previously described phylogeny based on morphology. Specifically, our phylogeny resolved two well-supported principal clades, one of American (west Atlantic and east Pacific) species and the other of Euro–African (east Atlantic) species. This suggests an evolutionary history during which the ancestral lineage of Merluccius was divided between two geographic regions, with subsequent dispersal and vicariant events resulting in the evolution and distribution of extant taxa. However, the relationships between some taxa within the American clade could not be resolved. We suggest that this is consistent with an hypothesis of a rapid origin and radiation of these taxa.
KeywordsEvolutionary History Geographic Region Pacific Ocean Marine Species Molecular Clock
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