Volume 89 (2014) Issue 4 Pages 187-191
The schizothoracine fish, also called snow trout, are members of the Cyprinidae, and are the most diversified teleost fish in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP). Clarifying the evolutionary history of the schizothoracine fish is therefore important for better understanding the biodiversity of the QTP. Although morphological and molecular phylogenetic studies have supported the monophyly of the Schizothoracinae, a recent molecular phylogenetic study based on the mitochondrial genome questioned the monophyly of this taxon. However, the phylogenetic analysis of that study was on the basis of only three schizothoracine species, and the support values were low. In this report, we inferred the phylogenetic tree on the basis of mitochondrial genome data including 21 schizothoracine species and five closely related species, and the polyphyletic origins of the Schizothoracinae were strongly supported. The tree further suggests that the Schizothoracinae consists of two clades, namely the “morphologically specialized clade” and the “morphologically primitive clade”, and that these two clades migrated independently of each other to the QTP and adapted to high altitude. We also detected in their mitochondrial genomes strong signals of positive selection, which probably represent evidence of high-altitude adaptation. In the case of the morphologically specialized clade, positive selection mainly occurred during the Late Paleocene to the Early Oligocene. Its migration also seems to have occurred in the Early Eocene, and this timing is consistent with the drastic uplifting of the QTP. On the other hand, positive selection in the morphologically primitive clade has mainly occurred since the Late Miocene. Because its members are thought to have migrated to the QTP recently, it is possible that they are now undergoing high-altitude adaptation.