Phylogenetic Placement of Enigmatic Percomorph Families (Teleostei: Percomorphaceae)

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2016 Jan;94(Pt B):565-576. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2015.10.006. Epub 2015 Oct 19.


Percomorphs are a large and diverse group of spiny-finned fishes that have come to be known as the "bush at the top" due to their persistent lack of phylogenetic resolution. Recently, the broader Euteleost Tree of Life project (EToL) inferred a well-supported phylogenetic hypothesis that groups the diversity of percomorphs into nine well-supported series (supraordinal groups): Ophidiaria, Batrachoidaria, Gobiaria, Syngnatharia, Pelagiaria, Anabantaria, Carangaria, Ovalentaria, and Eupercaria. The EToL also provided, for the first time, a monophyletic definition of Perciformes - the largest order of vertebrates. Despite significant progress made in accommodating the diversity of percomorph taxa into major clades, some 62 families (most previously placed in "Perciformes", as traditionally defined) were not examined by the EToL. Here, we provide evidence for the phylogenetic affinities of 10 of those 62 families, seven of which have largely remained enigmatic. This expanded taxonomic sampling also provides further support for the nine EToL supraordinal series. We examined sequences from 21 genes previously used by the EToL and added two fast-evolving mitochondrial markers in an attempt to increase resolution within the rapid percomorph radiations. We restricted the taxonomic sampling to 1229 percomorph species, including expanded sampling from recent studies. Results of maximum likelihood analysis revealed that bathyclupeids (Bathyclupeidae), galjoen fishes (Dichistiidae), kelpfishes (Chironemidae), marblefishes (Aplodactylidae), trumpeters (Latridae), barbeled grunters (Hapalogenyidae), slopefishes (Symphysanodontidae), and picarel porgies (formerly Centracanthidae) are members of the series Eupercaria ("new bush at the top"). The picarel porgies and porgies (Sparidae) are now placed in the same family (Sparidae). Our analyses suggest a close affinity between the orders Spariformes (including Lethrinidae, Nemipteridae and Sparidae) and Lobotiformes (including the tripletails or Lobotidae, the barbeled grunters, and tigerperches or Datnioididae), albeit support for this group is low. None of the newly examined families belong in the order Perciformes, as recently defined. Finally, we confirm results from other recent studies that place the Australasian salmons (Arripidae) within Pelagiaria, and the false trevallies (Lactariidae) close to flatfishes, jacks, and trevallies, within Carangaria.

Keywords: Classification; Ichthyology; Multi-locus data; Percomorph systematics; Phylogenetic placement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fishes / classification*
  • Fishes / genetics
  • Perciformes / classification
  • Perciformes / genetics
  • Phylogeny