Diversity, phylogeny, and historical biogeography of large-eye seabreams (Teleostei: Lethrinidae).Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2020 Jun 30; 151:106902.MP
The large-eye seabreams or Monotaxinae is one of two subfamilies in the Lethrinidae, a family of perch-like coral reef fishes. Despite its widespread occurrence and its commercial interest in the tropical Indo-West Pacific (IWP), this subfamily has traditionally been considered a taxonomically difficult group. Based on 268 samples collected from all 15 known large-eye seabream species throughout their distribution ranges, we investigated the taxonomic diversity and phylogenetic relationships in the subfamily. From the results of multiple analyses on four gene markers, we confirmed the monophyly of all four genera in the subfamily (Gnathodentex, Gymnocranius, Monotaxis and Wattsia). We confirmed the occurrence of two species in the genus Monotaxis. We reported 15 delimited species within the most speciose genus Gymnocranius, four of which are potentially new species. The time-calibrated phylogenetic reconstruction enabled us to clarify the evolutionary history of the large-eye seabreams and to infer past patterns of species distribution. The most recent common ancestor to the Monotaxinae likely occurred in the central IWP ca. 32 million years ago. A burst of species diversification likely took place during the Mid- to Late Miocene, coinciding with tectonic change in the central IWP region. This gave rise to most extant lineages in Gymnocranius. The observed geographic distribution patterns in the subfamily most likely point to the central IWP as the area of origin and diversification. This was followed by multiple events of centrifugal range expansion towards either the Indian Ocean or the western Pacific Ocean, or both. Our results thus provide new support for S. Ekman's center-of-origin hypothesis.