Molecular Phylogeny of Philippine Tigerperches (Perciformes: Terapontidae) Based on Mitochondrial Genes

Reynand Jay C. Canoy1,2,3, Ian Kendrich C. Fontanilla1,2, and Jonas P. Quilang1,2*

1Natural Sciences Research Institute, University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City 1101 Philippines
2Institute of Biology, College of Science, University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City 1101 Philippines
3Institute of Human Genetics, National Institutes of Health
University of the Philippines Manila, 625 Pedro Gil St., Ermita, Manila 1000 Philippines

*Corresponding Author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




The molecular phylogeny of the Philippine tigerperches is first described in this study. Eight species were analyzed: these include one endemic species (Leiopotherapon plumbeus); one introduced species (Bidyanus bidyanus); and six native species (Terapon jarbua, Terapon puta, Terapon theraps, Pelates quadrilineatus, Helotes sexlineatus, and Mesopristes cancellatus). Primers were designed to amplify and sequence the 12S rRNA (12S), cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI), and cytochrome b (CytB) genes. The concatenated 12S, COI, and CytB sequences (3529 bp) were used to construct the phylogeny of the tigerperches using Maximum Parsimony (MP), Neighbor Joining (NJ), Maximum Likelihood (ML), and Bayesian Inference (BI) analyses. All four analyses supported the monophyly of tigerperches. Except for the MP tree, all phylogenetic trees showed that Terapon jarbua was the first to have diverged from the rest of the tigerperch species examined. The congeneric T. jarbua, T. puta and T. theraps did not group together, suggesting their non-monophyly. However, SH test on the unconstrained (actual observation) and constrained (the three congeneric species were forced to group together) NJ trees showed no significant difference (p = 0.55). This demonstrated that the monophyly of the genus Terapon remains unclear. Helotes sexlineatus and Pelates quadrilineatus were found to group together based on the three markers, which lends support to assertions in other studies that these taxa are congeneric and should be placed in the same genus Pelates. The immediate sister taxa of B. bidyanus, L. plumbeus, M. cancellatus, and Rhynchopelates oxyrhynchus were not confirmed by the MP, NJ, ML, and BI phylogenetic trees. The inclusion of additional unsampled Philippine species, as well as those from neighboring countries, is recommended to further refine the phylogeny of tigerperches.



Tigerperches or grunters (family Terapontidae) are ray-finned fishes (order Perciformes, class Actinopterygii, phylum Chordata) composed of 61 species from 15 genera (Fricke et al. 2019) that thrive in marine, coastal, brackish, or freshwater parts of the Indo-West Pacific region (Nelson 2006). They have oblong to oblong-ovate body shape, two spines on the opercle, dorsal fin with 11–14 spines and 8–14 soft rays, anal fin with three spines and 7–15 soft rays, and body length that can reach up to 80 cm (Nelson 2006). They are characterized by having an upper jaw that does not extend beyond the center of orbit (Vari 1999).
In the Philippines, historical records show that there are eight tigerperch species (Herre 1953) present, but Froese and Pauly (2019) reported that there are 10 tigerperch species that thrive in lakes, brackish and sea waters. They are locally traded as food fishes and are thus economically and commercially important. In particular, the Philippine endemic Leiopotherapon plumbeus – locally known as “ayungin” – is traded around the major lakes of Luzon Island. The native Mesopristes cancellatus or “pigek” is highly-priced in Mindanao. It can also be found in Lake Naujan, Lake Mainit, and Kalinwan River. It is an exquisite delicacy and is served at very high prices in restaurants and hotels. A recent study has shown that the “bulidao” fish in Abra River is the same as the “pigek” fish found in Mindanao (Maralit et al. 2012). Other tigerperch species such as Terapon jarbua and Pelates quadrilineatus are commonly caught in coastal areas. . . . read more



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