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Keywords:

  • 16S rRNA;
  • gnomefish;
  • mtDNA;
  • PCR–RFLP;
  • Scombrops boops;
  • Scombrops gilberti

Two scombropid fishes, Scombrops boops and Scombrops gilberti, are closely related and commercially important species in Japan. These species are often confused in commercial markets because of their morphological similarity. In this study, scombropid specimens collected from various Japanese coastal waters were subjected to polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR–RFLP) analysis and phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rRNA gene in mitochondrial DNA. These analyses showed that all the scombropid specimens collected from localities in the Sea of Japan were identified as S. boops, whereas those from the Pacific Ocean included two species, S. boops and S. gilberti. Almost all juvenile (<200 mm standard body length, SL) S. gilberti originated from the Pacific coastal waters of the northern Japan, whereas adults (>400 mm SL) were found only in deep water off the Izu Peninsula to the Izu Islands. This suggests that S. gilberti might migrate extensively during its life cycle. In addition, differences in the number of specimens and the distribution between the two species suggest that S. gilberti is less abundant than S. boops in Japanese waters.