The origin and evolution of seahorses (genus Hippocampus): a phylogenetic study using the cytochrome b gene of mitochondrial DNA

Publication Type: Journal Article

Year of Publication: 2004

Authors: Casey, S, Hall HJ, Stanley HF, Vincent ACJ

Journal: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution

Volume: 30

Issue: 2

Pagination: 261 - 272

Date Published: 02/2004

ISSN: 10557903

Keywords: Dispersal, genetics, seahorse


Phylogenetic relationships among 93 specimens of 22 species of seahorses (genus Hippocampus) from the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific Oceans were analysed using cytochrome b gene sequence data. A maximum sequence divergence of 23.2% (Kimura 2-parameter model) suggests a pre-Tethyan origin for the genus. Despite a greater number of seahorse species in the Indo-Pacific than in the Atlantic Ocean, there was no compelling genetic evidence to support an Indo-Pacific origin for the genus Hippocampus. The phylogenetic data suggest that high diversity in the Indo-Pacific results from speciation events dating from the Pleistocene to the Miocene, or earlier. Both vicariance and dispersal events in structuring the current global distribution of seahorses. The results suggested that several species designations need re-evaluating, and further phylogeographic studies are required to determine patterns and processes of seahorse dispersal.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2003.08.018

Short Title: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution