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The Lake Victoria drainage basin (LVD) in Kenya is home to ten nominal species of small barbs (‘Barbus’) and one of large barbs (Labeobarbus altianalis). A recent molecular study genetically characterized small barbs in this region and found evidence of introgression between certain species, further complicating the taxonomy and species identification of these fishes. This study aimed to extend our understanding on the evolution of these fishes by: (1) examining the phylogenetic relationships of small barbs of the Kenyan LVD with those reported from other ichthyological provinces of Africa; (2) testing the sister relationship between ‘Barbus’ profundus, endemic to Lake Victoria, and ‘Barbus’ radiatus, also found in Lake Victoria, which had been previously synonymized; (3) determining whether putatively pure individuals of ‘Barbus’ cercops are found in the Kenyan LVD, as a previous study only found hybrid individuals of this species in this region; and (4) examining the phylogenetic relationships of Labeobarbus altianalis with other Labeobarbus species. To this end, we obtained mitochondrial Cytochrome b and nuclear Growth Hormone (GH) intron 2 gene sequences of nine ‘Barbus’ species from the LVD in Kenya, as well as cytochrome b sequences for L. altianalis. We conducted Maximum likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses to establish their evolutionary relationships in relation to many other barbs specimens from Africa. Phylogenetic analyses did not reveal instances of hybridization/introgression among the individuals sequenced by us. A sister relationship between ‘B’. profundus and ‘B’. radiatus was not found. This latter species shows instead a sister relationship with a lineage comprised of two species from West Africa. Other sister relationships between taxa from the East coast and other ecoregions from Africa are observed, suggesting that past drainage connections and vicariant events contributed to the diversification of this group. Finally, only a single haplotype was recovered among the L. altianalis individuals examined, which is most similar to a specimen from Lake Edward in Uganda.
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Specimen information for samples sequenced in this study
Specimen information for samples sequenced in this study including geographic coordinates and GenBank Accession Numbers. Locality numbers match labels in Figures. Blue font indicates specimens for which both the Cytb and GH sequence were obtained.