Sparid fishes consist of approximately 115 species in 33 genera that are broadly distributed in tropical and temperate coastal waters. Although several phylogenetic analyses were conducted based on specific molecular markers, their classification remains unresolved. Here, we present the most comprehensive molecular phylogeny of the family Sparidae to date, based on cytochrome b (cyt-b) genes. We determined 18 sequences of sparids and conducted phylogenetic analyses among 72 individuals representing 66 sparids with 23 outgroup species. Phylogenetic trees were constructed according to partitioned Maximum Likelihood (ML) and Bayesian methods. The phylogenetic analyses were conducted on two different data sets (including all positions; RY-coding). The phylogenetic trees showed monophyly of the family Sparidae with a different taxon, centracanthid Spicara. The subfamilies in the Sparidae in all trees are non-monophyletic and do not agree with current classification of the subfamilies. The genera Acanthopagrus, Cheimerius, Dentex, Diplodus, Pagellus, Pagrus, and Spicara are also non-monophyletic and their classifications should be revised based on the phylogenetic relationships and reinvestigation of morphological characters. The sparids are divided into three major clades, A, B and C, respectively in the ML tree based on all codon positions, whereas clade C was paraphyletic in the other trees. The species in clade C are known to be present in the eastern Pacific to western Atlantic, whereas those in clades A and B are distributed in various oceanic regions. Some sub-clades in clades A and B consist of species that are distributed in defined local regions. We further investigated evolutionary patterns of 87 morphological characters by ancestral character-state reconstruction according to the parsimony criteria. The results suggested high evolutionary plasticity of the characters in sparids, indicating that it causes species-diversity and taxonomic confusion at various taxonomic levels, and that such convergent evolution may occur more frequently also in other coastal fishes.
2009 by The Genetics Society of Japan