Phylogeography of the sergeants Abudefduf sexfasciatus and A-vaigiensis reveals complex introgression patterns between two widespread and sympatric Indo-West Pacific reef fishes

Joris A. M. Bertrand, Philippe Borsa, Wei-Jen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


On evolutionary timescales, sea level oscillations lead to recurrent spatio-temporal variation in species distribution and population connectivity. In this situation, applying classical concepts of biogeography is challenging yet necessary to understand the mechanisms underlying biodiversity in highly diverse marine ecosystems such as coral reefs. We aimed at studying the outcomes of such complex biogeographic dynamics on reproductive isolation by sampling populations across a wide spatial range of a species-rich fish genus: the sergeants (Pomacentridae: Abudefduf). We generated a mutlilocus data set that included ten morpho-species from 32 Indo-West Pacific localities. We observed a pattern of mito-nuclear discordance in two common and widely distributed species: Abudefduf sexfasciatus and Abudefduf vaigiensis. The results showed three regional sublineages (Indian Ocean, Coral Triangle region, western Pacific) in A. sexfasciatus (0.6-1.5% divergence at cytb). The other species, A. vaigiensis, is polyphyletic and consists of three distinct genetic lineages (A, B and C) (9% divergence at cytb) whose geographic ranges overlap. Although A. vaigiensis A and A. sexfasciatus were found to be distinct based on nuclear information, A. vaigiensis A was found to be nested within A. sexfasciatus in the mitochondrial gene tree. A. sexfasciatus from the Coral Triangle region and A. vaigiensis A were not differentiated from each other at the mitochondrial locus. We then used coalescent-based simulation to characterize a spatially widespread but weak gene flow between the two species. We showed that these fishes are good candidates to investigate the evolutionary complexity of the discrepancies between phenotypic and genetic similarity in closely related species.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2527-2542
Number of pages16
Issue number9
StatePublished - Feb 3 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-06-03
Acknowledgements: Specimens from the western Indian Ocean were collected during the IRD/CNRS/TAAF-sponsored PHYLIP campaign on board RV Marion Dufresne, April 2011; those from West Papua, during expedition EWiN sponsored by LIPI (Indonesia), on board KR Baruna Jaya VIII, November 2007; those from New Caledonia during the FRB-sponsored RESICOD project, December 2010; those from Moruroa were obtained from the IRD-sponsored ISOTOPE campaign on board RV Alis, June 2006; those from Papua New Guinea, during the joint ‘Our Planet Reviewed’ PAPUA NIUGINI Biodiversity Expedition of Pro-Natura International (PNI), MNHN, IRD and UPGN, November 2012, and during the MADEEP (April, 2014) and Kavieng (September, 2014) campaigns on board RV Alis under the program of the Taiwan France marine diversity exploration and evolution of deep-sea fauna (TFDeepEvo). We thank M. Adrim (LIPI, Jakarta), S. Bahri and A. Sembiring (IBRC, Denpasar), K. Conway (TAMU, College Station), J. DiBattista and J.-P. Hobbs (Curtin University, Perth), J.-D. Durand (IRD, Montpellier), H.-C. Ho (NMMBA, Pingtung), F. Giancarlo, (Proyek BioKor, Denpasar), M. Kulbicki (IRD, Perpignan), G. Mou-Tham and C. Paillon (IRD, Nouméa), T. Gurevich Raguso (Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science, Eilat), K.-N. Shen (NTOU, Keelung) and T.H. Sinclair-Taylor (KAUST, Thuwal) for their participation in the collection or provision of specimens. We also thank the University of Milano-Bicocca Marine Research and High Education Centre in Magoodhoo, Maldives, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture of the Republic of Maldives and the community of Maghoodhoo, Faafu Atoll, and the headquarters of Kenting National Park and Dongsha Atoll National Park of Taiwan. We are grateful to J. Yang and the Chen's laboratory members for producing some of the sequences and for the help in the laboratory and the specimen management. S. Lavoué, Y. Bourgeois and four anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on different versions of the manuscript. This work was supported by research grants from the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (MOST 101-2611-M-002-016-MY3, MOST 103-2811-M-002-109 and MOST 104-2611-M-002-002-MY3 to WJC). JAMB was supported by National Taiwan University and MoST postdoctoral fellowships.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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