Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution vol:32 issue:1 pages:324-336
Vicariant and climatic cycling speciation hypotheses of the 'sand gobies' belonging to the genera Pomatoschistus, Gobiusculus, Knipowitschia, and Economidichthys are tested using molecular phylogenies constructed of nuclear DNA (ITS1 locus) and mitochondrial DNA (12S and 16S fragments). These gobies are among the most abundant in the Eastern Atlantic-Mediterranean region, and play an important role in the ecosystem. Considerable ITS1 length differences, primarily due to the presence of several tandem repeats, were found between species and even within individuals. Therefore, phylogenetic analyses focused on fragments of the 12S and 16S mtDNA region that have been sequenced for 16 goby taxa. The 'sand gobies' clustered as a monophyletic group as proposed on morphological grounds. However, G. flavescens, E pygmaeus, and K punctatissima clustered within the Pomatoschistus species, pointing to a paraphyletic origin of these genera. Furthermore, the genetic divergence between P. minutus from the Adriatic Sea versus the Atlantic-Mediterranean region was as high as the divergence within the P. minutus complex, suggesting that P. minutus from the Adriatic Sea should be considered as a distinct species. The "star" phylogeny might suggest that these gobies evolved in a very short time period, possibly linked to the drastic alterations in the Mediterranean Sea during and immediately after the Messinian salinity crisis at the end of the Miocene. The freshwater life-style appeared monophyletic; equating its origin with the salinity crisis resulted in a molecular clock estimate of 1.4% divergence per million years. The last common ancestor probably occupied sandy bottoms and a coastal niche while several species subsequently adapted to new habitats (pelagic, freshwater or stenohaline). The origin of the shallowest clades dated back to the glacial cycling during the Pleistocene epoch. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.