Phylogenetic analysis of a segment of the mitochondrial 16S rDNA of eight Anguilla species from the Indo–Pacific region and from the North Atlantic revealed that the genus Anguilla appears to be surprisingly young, based upon the small observed maximum genetic distance of 4.8% and the high degree of morphological similarity among the species. The placement of A. marmorata as the most ancestral lineage suggests that the genus is likely to have originated in the Indo–Malayian region, from which it quickly spread. Two Pacific species, A. obscura and A. japonica, branched next. A. japonica was placed as sister group to all remaining species, which formed three clades: the first comprising A. australis, the second A. reinhardti and A. mossambica, and the third A. anguilla and A. rostrata. All analyzed specimens of A. rostrata originating from southern New Jersey to Nova Scotia had identical mitotypes, while five mitochondrial genotypes were found in Europe differing by zero to two substitutions. The two Atlantic eel species are very closely related; all surveyed specimens of A. anguilla differ by three to five substitutions from their American allies, corroborating the existence of two distinct biological species. This was also confirmed by restriction analysis of a 350-bp segment of the cytochrome b, in which American specimens were distinct in sharing a single diagnostic restriction site of Hin fI. Our results suggest little to no gene flow between the two nominal Atlantic eel species.
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2000
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