Molecular systematics of caeciliid caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona) of the Western Ghats, India

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2011 Jun;59(3):698-707. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.03.002. Epub 2011 Mar 22.


Together, Indian plus Seychelles caeciliid caecilian amphibians (Gymnophiona) constitute approximately 10% of the extant species of this order. A molecular phylogenetic analysis of all but one (or two) nominal species (16, in five genera) is presented based on mitochondrial (12S, 16S, cytb, cox1) and nuclear (RAG1) sequence data. Results strongly support monophyly of both Seychelles and peninsular Indian caeciliids, and their sister-group status. Within the Indian caeciliids, Indotyphlus and Gegeneophis are monophyletic sister genera. The phylogenetic position of Gegeneophis ramaswamii, Gegeneophis seshachari, and Gegeneophis carnosus are not well resolved, but all lie outside a well-supported clade of most northern Western Ghats Gegeneophis (madhavai, mhadeiensis, goaensis, danieli/nadkarnii). Most nominal species of Indian caeciliid are diagnosed by robust haplotype clades, though the systematics of G. carnosus-like forms in northern Kerala and southern Karnataka requires substantial further investigation. For the most part, Indian caeciliid species comprise narrowly distributed, allopatric taxa with low genetic diversity. Much greater geographic genetic diversity exists among populations referred to G. seshachari, such that some populations likely represent undescribed species. This, the first phylogenetic analysis of Indian caeciliids, generally provides additional support for recent increases in described species (eight since 1999), and a framework for ongoing taxonomic revision.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amphibians / classification
  • Amphibians / genetics*
  • Animals
  • India
  • Phylogeny*