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Evolutionary history of Nile perch Lates sp. inferred from mitochondrial DNA variation analyses

Matthew Tenywa Mwanja1*, Vincent Muwanika2, Charles Masembe3, Sylvester Nyakaana3 and Wilson Waiswa Mwanja4

Author Affiliations

1 ARDC-Kajjansi, PO Box 530, Kampala, Uganda

2 Department of Environmental Management, Makerere University, PO Box 7098, Kampala, Uganda

3 Biological Sciences Department, Makerere University, PO Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda

4 Department of Fisheries Resources, PO Box 4, Entebbe, Uganda

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Zoological Studies 2013, 52:59  doi:10.1186/1810-522X-52-59

Published: 13 December 2013



Evolutionary histories of aquatic species are often characterized by distinct patterns of genetic variation, which in part reflect drainage evolution. In the present study, the consequences of paleo-environmental changes on patterns of genetic variation of the mitochondrial DNA control region in Nile perch Lates sp. sampled from seven water bodies across the African continent were investigated.


In a total sample of 124 individual sequences, 37 distinct haplotypes were observed, and 78.4% of these haplotypes were location specific. Haplotypes were found to cluster into two major groups, one composed of individuals sampled from East Africa and another from West Africa, with no haplotypes shared in between.


These lineages may have developed in geographical isolation during the Pleistocene and have remained largely allopatric without gene flow (Nm = 0.0) since that time. There was also evidence that both of these genetic lineages have undergone recent population expansions. We interpret these results in light of the recent evolution of Africa's modern drainage network.

Africa drainage system; Nile perch; Evolution; mtDNA