Phylogenetic relationships of Middle American cichlids (Cichlidae, Heroini) based on combined evidence from nuclear genes, mtDNA, and morphology.Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2008 Dec; 49(3):941-57.MP
Heroine cichlids are the second largest and very diverse tribe of Neotropical cichlids, and the only cichlid group that inhabits Mesoamerica. The taxonomy of heroines is complex because monophyly of most genera has never been demonstrated, and many species groups are without applicable generic names after their removal from the catch-all genus Cichlasoma (sensu Regan, 1905). Hence, a robust phylogeny for the group is largely wanting. A rather complete heroine phylogeny based on cytb sequence data is available [Concheiro Pérez, G.A., Rícan O., Ortí G., Bermingham, E., Doadrio, I., Zardoya, R. 2007. Phylogeny and biogeography of 91 species of heroine cichlids (Teleostei: Cichlidae) based on sequences of the cytochrome b gene. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 43, 91-110], and in the present study, we have added and analyzed independent data sets (nuclear and morphological) to further confirm and strengthen the cytb-phylogenetic hypothesis. We have analyzed a combined cytb-nuclear (RAG1 and two S7 introns) data set of 48 species representing main heroine lineages to achieve further resolution of heroine higher taxonomic levels and a combined cytb-morphological data set of 92 species to stabilize generic taxonomy. The recovered phylogenies supported the circumamazonian--CAM--Heroini (sensu Concheiro Peréz et al., 2007) as a monophyletic group, that could be divided into six main clades: (1) australoheroines (the southernmost heroine genus Australoheros), (2) nandopsines (the Antillean genus Nandopsis), (3) caquetaines (including the north western Amazonian genera Caquetaia and Heroina), (4) astatheroines (including Astatheros, Herotilapia and Rocio), (5) amphilophines (including Amphilophus and related genera), and (6) herichthyines (including Herichthyis and related genera). Nuclear and mitochondrial data partitions arrived at highly congruent topologies. Suprageneric relationships were influenced mainly by the nuclear signal, as well as the most basal phylogenetic position of Australoheros within CAM heroines. The new phylogeny of the tribe Heroini provides robust framework to stabilize the taxonomy of the group and for future comparative studies on these morphologically and ecologically diverse freshwater fishes. Morphology was mostly informative at the genus level and aid in determining the monophyly and composition of heroine genera. Upon acceptance of all putative genera, as recovered in this study, the Heroini would be with 35 genera the most genus-rich clade of Neotropical cichlids.