DNA barcoding and species delimitation of the Old World tooth-carps, family Aphaniidae Hoedeman, 1949 (Teleostei: Cyprinodontiformes).

Research paper by Hamid Reza HR Esmaeili, Azad A Teimori, Fatah F Zarei, Golnaz G Sayyadzadeh

Indexed on: 17 Apr '20Published on: 17 Apr '20Published in: PloS one


The fishes, which have currently named Aphanius Nardo, 1827 are the relict of the ancient ichthyofauna of the Tethys Sea. For a long time since 1827, the genus name has been subjected to revision by several researchers using mainly morphological features. Until recently, no comprehensive single- or multi-locus DNA barcoding study has been conducted on whole members of the family Aphaniidae. In the present study, by applying four conceptually different molecular species delimitation methods, including one distance-based method, one network-based and two topology-based methods, we examined a single-locus DNA barcode library (COI) diversity for the 268 sequences within the family Aphaniidae from the Old World (57 sequences are new in the present study and 211 sequences were retrieved from NCBI database). The molecular analyses revealed a clearer picture of intra-family relationships and allowed us to clarify the generic names, and also describe a new genus for the family Aphaniidae. Results supported distinction of three major clades related to three genera within this family: i) the first clade includes the A. mento group which are placed in a new genus, Paraphanius gen. nov., found in the Orontes (= Asi) and Tigris-Euphrates River drainage, the Levant in coastal waters and the Dead Sea basin, western Jordan, and in southern Turkey in the Mediterranean basins as well as in central Turkey. This clade positioned at the base of the phylogenetic tree, (ii) the second clade contains the A. dispar-like brackish water tooth-carps which are transferred to the genus Aphaniops Hoedeman, 1951 (type species, Lebias dispar), distributed in the coastal waters around the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf basins; and (iii) the third clade, the genus Aphanius Nardo, 1827 (type species Aphanius nanus = A. fasciatus) contains all the inland and inland-related tooth-carps, which are mainly distributed in the inland waters in Turkey and Iran and also in the inland-related drainages around the Mediterranean basin.