Molecular phylogeny of the subfamily Amphistichinae (Teleostei: Embiotocidae) reveals parallel divergent evolution of red pigmentation in two rapidly evolving lineages of sand-dwelling surfperch

J Fish Biol. 2011 Aug;79(2):313-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.2011.03011.x. Epub 2011 Jul 14.


Pigment evolution was reconstructed in the subfamily Amphistichinae, a six-species clade of the surfperches, family Embiotocidae. Assignment was confirmed for all species within the subfamily, but low levels of differentiation were found among species within the subfamily, suggesting a recent radiation. The new phylogeny differs from previous hypotheses by the placement of the spotfin surfperch Hyperprosopon anale at the base of the subfamily, while still preserving the calico surfperch Amphistichus koelzi and the redtailed surfperch Amphistichus rhodoterus as sister species. Phenotypically, A. rhodoterus, A. koelzi and the silver surfperch Hyperprosopon ellipticum express high levels of red pigmentation. The barred surfperch, Amphistichus argenteus and the walleye surfperch Hyperprosopon argenteum express little to no red pigment, while basal H. anale expresses an intermediate amount of red pigment. Red pigmentation is proposed to have experienced parallel divergent evolution in each genus within the subfamily.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Carotenoids / analysis
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Perciformes / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Pigmentation / genetics*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Carotenoids