Pliocene isolation of a north-west Saharan cichlid fish


  • M. J. Genner,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1UG, U.K.
    2. Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, U.K.
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  • M. P. Haesler

    1. Division Aquatic Ecology and Macroevolution, Institute of Ecology & Evolution, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    2. Department of Fish Ecology & Evolution, Centre of Ecology, Evolution and Biogeochemistry (CEEB), Eawag Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Seestrasse 79, CH-6047 Kastanienbaum, Switzerland
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The evolutionary origin of the only north-west Saharan haplochromine cichlid, Astatotilapia desfontainii, was explored using mitochondrial DNA sequences. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that this species belonged to the main East African–Nilotic haplochromine clade, but was a distinct lineage that diverged from modern haplochromines in the Pliocene. The results suggest that A. desfontainii is a relict haplochromine lineage that has endured major climate fluctuations in North Africa.