Phylogeny of East African cichlids  




The patterns of phylogenetic relationships among fishes in different lakes are easily recovered from mitochondrial DNA sequences. Lake Tanganyika holds a group of 8-10 lineages that have been distinct for 7-9 million years. The independent monophyletic radiations in lakes Victoria and Malawi have occured in the last 1-2 million years. Morphologically similar species in different lakes are therefore the result of convergent evolution. Recovery of the phylogeny of species within lakes Victoria and Malawi is complicated by the retention of ancestral polymorphisms - speciation has occurred more rapidly than fixation of alleles within species. This means that that phylogenetic trees derived from particular genes may not accurately reflect the history of the species. To overcome this problem we have scored thousands of independent restriction site polymorphisms to produce a consensus that should accurately reflect the true history of species. These phylogenies are then used to test hypotheses about the mechanisms of speciation.


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Labeotropheus trewavasae


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Images by Justin Marshall