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Keywords:

  • cytochrome c oxidase subunit-I;
  • DNA barcoding;
  • Lepidion species;
  • Moridae

Abstract

DNA sequences of cytochrome c oxidase I gene (COI) from Lepidion spp. were employed to test the efficiency of species identification. A sample of 32 individuals from five Lepidion species was sequenced and combined with 26 sequences from other BOLD projects. As a result, 58 Lepidion DNA sequences of the COI gene belonging to eight of the nine recognized Lepidion species were analysed. Sequences were aligned and formed seven clades in a Bayesian phylogenetic tree, where Lepidion lepidion and Lepidion eques grouped jointly. The Kimura 2-parameter genetic distances, among congeners were, on average, 4.28%, 16 times greater than among conspecifics (0.27%). The main diagnostic meristic data of Lepidion spp. were compiled and a detailed morphological revision of the congeneric species L. eques and L. lepidion was made. The eye diameter was significantly different between L. eques and L. lepidion (P < 0.001). The number of anal fin rays ranged from 45 to 51 in L. lepidion and from 47 to 54 in L. eques, but no significant differences were obtained in the mean values of this variable (P = 0.07). According to the morphological and genetic analyses, the results strongly suggest that the Mediterranean codling L. lepidion and the North Atlantic codling L. eques are conspecific, making L. eques a junior synonym of L. lepidion.