Complete mitochondrial genome of the Spanish toothcarp, Aphanius iberus (Valenciennes, 1846) (Actinopterygii, Aphaniidae) and its phylogenetic position within the Cyprinodontiformes order

Mol Biol Rep. 2023 Apr;50(4):2953-2962. doi: 10.1007/s11033-022-08236-w. Epub 2023 Jan 17.


Background: The Spanish toothcarp (Aphanius iberus Valenciennes, 1846) is a small fish endemic to the eastern coastline of the Iberian Peninsula and is currently listed as "Endangered" (category IUCN: EN). It mainly inhabits brackish waters which can exhibit large fluctuations in temperature and salinity throughout the year. The genetics of A. iberus are not well-known since most studies have only evaluated the genetic structure of the species under a conservation framework in order to identify its potential conservation units. Different phylogenetic relationships of Aphanius have been published based on some particular genes. In the present study, the entire mitochondrial genome of A. iberus was obtained for the first time in the context of an A. iberus reference genome and a hypothesis regarding its phylogenetic position was considered.

Methods and results: The mitogenome (a circular doble-stranded DNA sequence of 16,708 bp) was reconstructed and aligned against 83 Cyprinodontiformes and two outgroup taxa to identify the phylogenetic position of A. iberus. PartitionFinder was first used to test for the best evolutionary model and the phylogenetic analyses were performed using two methods: Maximun-Likelihood Approximation (IQ-Tree) and Bayesian inference (MrBayes). Our results show that A. iberus forms a sister group with Orestias ascotanensis, a cyprinodontiform species native to South America.

Conclusions: The results were congruent with the traditional morphometric reconstructed trees and with a geological vicariant hypothesis involving Cyprinodontiformes where Aphaniidae is shown as a monophyletic family separated from the family Cyprinodontidae. The information gathered from this study is not only valuable for improving our understanding of the evolutionary history of A. iberus, but for future genomic studies involving the species.

Keywords: Aphanius iberus; Cyprinodontiformes; Mitogenome; Phylogeny.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cyprinodontiformes* / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Genome, Mitochondrial* / genetics
  • Killifishes* / genetics
  • Phylogeny


  • DNA, Mitochondrial