• The phylogenetic relationships between Pampus species were determined based on 150 mitochondrial COI gene sequences.
• Morphological and molecular evidence suggests the silver pomfret, reported as Pampus argenteus, distributed in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea is distinct from East Asian P. argenteus.
• The silver pomfret in the Indian region represents species with genetic affinity to P. cinereus.
• Hidden species diversity among Pampus species is revealed from Bay of Bengal and Arabian waters.
Pomfrets (Genus Pampus) are commercially important fishes in the Indo Pacific region. The systematics of this genus is complicated due to morphological similarities between species. The silver pomfret from Indian waters has long been considered to be Pampus argenteus. The objective of the study was to utilize the mitochondrial COI gene to establish the molecular identity of the silver pomfret distributed in Indian waters and to resolve the phylogenetic relationships among Pampus species in the world based on sequence data in the NCBI database. Seven valid Pampus species are identified in this study. The mean genetic divergence value calculated between clades representing these species was 7.9%. The mean genetic distance between the so-called Pampus argenteus from Indian waters and sequences attributed to P. argenteus from the South China Sea, where the neotype of this species was collected, was found to be greater than 12%, strongly supporting the likelihood of the Indian species being distinct. The Indian Pampus species show very close affinity to P. cinereus, with inter species differences less than 2%. The taxonomic identity of the silver pomfret in India is also discussed here, in light of molecular and morphological evidence.
Keywords: Pampus argenteus; COI; Molecular phylogeny; Distinct species
P.R. Divya, C. Mohitha, G. Kumar Rahul, C.P. Rajool Shanis, V.S. Basheer and A. Gopalakrishnan. 2017. Molecular based Phylogenetic Species Recognition in the Genus Pampus (Perciformes: Stromateidae) reveals Hidden Diversity in the Indian Ocean. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.12.030