African Zoology

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New evidence of homoplasy within the African genus Varicorhinus (Cyprinidae): an independent origin of specialized scraping forms in the adjacent drainage systems of Ethiopia inferred from mtDNA analysis

Boris A. Levin, Alexander S. Golubtsov, Yuri Yu. Dgebuadze, Nikolai S. Mugue


Interrelationships of the two specialized scraping periphyton-feeders, Varicorhinus  beso and V. jubae, and some large African barbs, Labeobarbus spp., inhabiting three main regions of Ethiopia (the Western and Eastern Plateaus, and the Rift Valley separating them) were investigated using the sequence analysis of a fragment (609 base pairs) of the mtDNA control region. The two scraping forms in question  appeared to be phylogenetically distant: V. beso had branched off before the main radiation of the Ethiopian Labeobarbus took place, whereas V. jubae is a sister group of the Labeobarbus gananensis complex sympatrically occurring with it in the south of the Eastern Plateau. For geographical reasons, among the congeneric species, V. jubae  could be considered as the most closely related to V. beso, the type species of the genus, but judging from the available data this genus seems to be monotypic, while jubae should be classified as a member of Labeobarbus.

Key words: Cyprinidae, parallel evolution, scraping feeder, polyphyly, Varicorhinus, Africa.
AJOL African Journals Online