The phylogenetic position of Lygodactylus angularis and the utility of using the 16S rDNA gene for delimiting species in Lygodactylus (Squamata, Gekkonidae)

Riccardo Castiglia, Flavia Annesi
The African genus Lygodactylus Gray, is composed of roughly 60 species of diurnal geckos that inhabit tropical and temperate Africa, Madagascar, and South America. In this study, we assessed the phylogenetic position of L. angularis, for which molecular data were so far lacking, by means of sequence analysis of the mitochondrial 16S rDNA gene. We also compared intraspecific vs. interspecific genetic divergences using an extended data set (34 species, 153 sequences), to determine whether a
more » ... ine whether a fragment of this gene can be useful for species identification and to reveal the possible existence of new cryptic species in the genus. The analysis placed L. angularis in a monophyletic group together with members of "fischeri" and "picturatus" groups. Nevertheless, the independence of the "angularis" lineage is supported by the high genetic divergence. Comparison of intraspecific vs. interspecific genetic distances highlights that, assuming an equal molecular rate of evolution among the studied species for the used gene, the threshold value useful for recognising a candidate new species can be tentatively placed at 7%. We identified four species that showed an intraspecific divergence higher than, or close to, the 7% threshold: L. capensis (8.7%), L. gutturalis (9.3%), L. madagascariensis (6.5%) and L. picturatus (8.1%). Moreover, two species, L. mombasicus and L. verticillatus, are paraphyletic in terms of gene genealogy. Thus, the study shows that a short fragment of the 16S rDNA gene can be an informative tool for species-level taxonomy in the genus Lygodactylus.
doi:10.13128/acta_herpetol-9577 fatcat:c7wtrrauare7jbwpcrm2i74hbi