Molecular phylogeny and evolution of the freshwater eels genus Anguilla based on the whole mitochondrial genome sequences

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2005 Jan;34(1):134-46. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2004.09.003.


Molecular phylogenetic analyses were conducted using the whole mitochondrial genome sequences of all 18 species/subspecies of the freshwater eels genus Anguilla to infer their phylogenetic relationships and to evaluate hypotheses about the possible dispersal routes of this genus. The Bayesian and maximum likelihood analyses using a total of 15,187 sites of mitochondrial DNA sequences suggested that A. mossambica was the most basal species of anguillid eel, and that the other species (except for A. borneensis) formed three geographic clades: Atlantic (two species), Oceania (three species), and Indo-Pacific (11 species). The present study clearly indicated a sister relationship between the Atlantic and Oceanian species, which now have distantly separated geographic distributions. This suggests that the previous hypotheses to estimate the dispersal route of anguillid eels into the Atlantic Ocean based on the current geographic distribution of species are unsupported by the present more complete analysis. Alternatively, the unique geographic distribution of the present day species in the genus Anguilla appears to have resulted from multiple dispersal events. Although the age of the beginning of speciation among anguillid eels was tentatively estimated as 20 million years ago using a calibration for bony fishes of 7.3x10(-4) substitutions/site/million years, it is possible that this divergence time was underestimated because of the ecological characteristics of these fishes. The results of the present study suggest that the hypotheses for the dispersal route and divergence time of the genus Anguilla should be reconsidered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anguilla
  • Animals
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genome
  • Geography
  • Phylogeny*