Phylogenetic analysis of cichlid fishes using nuclear DNA markers

Holger Sültmann, Werner E. Mayer, Felipe Figueroa, Herbert Tichy, Jan Klein

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The recent explosive adaptive radiation of cichlids in the great lakes of East Africa has attracted the attention of both morphologists and molecular biologists. To decipher the phylogenetic relationships among the various taxa within the family Cichlidae is a prerequisite for answering some fundamental questions about the nature of the speciation process. In the present study, we used the random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique to obtain sequence differences between selected cichlid species. We then designed specific primers based on these sequences and used them to amplify template DNA from a large number of species by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). We sequenced the amplified products and searched the sequences for indels and shared substitutions. We identified a number of such characters at three loci-DXTU1, DXTU2, and DXTU3-and used them for phylogenetic and cladistic analysis of the relationships among the various cichlid groups. Our studies assign an outgroup position to Neotropical cichlids in relation to African cichlids, provide evidence for a sister-group relationship of tilapiines to the haplochromines, group Cyphotilapia frontosa with the lamprologines of Lake Tanganyika, place Astatoreochromis alluaudi to an outgroup position with respect to other haplochromines of Lakes Victoria and Malawi, and provide additional support for the monophyly of the remaining Lake Victoria haplochromines and the Lake Malawi haplochromines. The described approach holds great promise for further resolution of cichlid phylogeny.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1047
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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