Large-scale hybridization of Japanese populations of Hinamoroko, Aphyocypris chinensis, with A. kikuchii introduced from Taiwan

Abstract

Aphyocypris chinensis is a small cyprinid that is widely distributed in lowland areas of continental China, the Korean Peninsula, and the northwestern part of Kyushu, Japan. However, this species is severely threatened in Japan due to human impacts; thus, several facilities and citizen groups implemented captive breeding and reintroduction/reinforcement programs using several dozen founder fish collected from Tanushimaru, the location with the only known natural population, in the 1980s and 1990s. To determine the phylogenetic position and genetic authenticity of Japanese populations of A. chinensis, we conducted mtDNA and genome-wide SNP analyses using a total of 254 specimens from 31 wild and captive samples, including specimens of Chinese and Korean A. chinensis and the close relative A. kikuchii from Taiwan. The mtDNA divergence and phylogeny indicated that the haplotypes found exclusively in Japan were differentiated from the Chinese/Korean haplotypes (uncorrected p = 2.6% in the cytochrome b gene) to the same extent as they were from A. kikuchii haplotypes (p = 2.9%). Results from mtDNA sequences and 47–359 SNPs, obtained using the MIG-seq method with different parameter sets, revealed that the initial captive populations and an extinct wild population in Ukiha, adjacent to Tanushimaru, were genuine Japanese populations, whereas all extant captive and wild populations in Japan are hybrids between Japanese A. chinensis and A. kikuchii, or A. kikuchii itself. The details of the captive breeding and exchange programs, as well as evidence for the aquarium trade of A. kikuchii since the 1990s, strongly suggest that the mixture of A. kikuchii into Japanese populations occurred within the first several years of the establishment of captive populations in 1994. The present case of the highly probable extinction of genuine Japanese populations of A. chinensis emphasizes the importance of confirmation and management of the genetic authenticity of conservation-targeted species.

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Acknowledgements

We sincerely thank N. Suzuki (Chiba Prefecture), K. Okura (Fukuoka City), O. Masuda, T. Miki, and M. Takeda (HCA), M. Murakami (HFC), T. Nagata, S. Yoshikawa, K. Yamada, T. Suzuki (LBM), Y. Suzuki, M. Nakamura (MWU), M. Onuma (National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan), Y. Nakamura (OK Fish Farm), H. Nakashima (OMC), T. Satonaka (SML), and N. Akiyama (TKU) for providing specimens and valuable information, Y. Suyama (Tohoku University) for providing advice for the MIG-seq experiment, Y. Fuke (Kyoto University) for helping in molecular experiments, S. Nonaka (Dojyo Club) for providing a photo, and H. Akiyama and N. Daiki for helping arrangement of the photo collections in LBM. This study was supported in part by JSPS KAKENHI (nos. 18K14802 and 18H01330 to R. Tabata).

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Correspondence to Katsutoshi Watanabe.

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Watanabe, K., Tabata, R., Nakajima, J. et al. Large-scale hybridization of Japanese populations of Hinamoroko, Aphyocypris chinensis, with A. kikuchii introduced from Taiwan. Ichthyol Res 67, 361–374 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10228-019-00730-9

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Keywords

  • Captive breeding
  • Endangered species
  • Ex situ conservation
  • Hybridization
  • MIG-seq
  • mtDNA cytochrome b