Phylogenetic relationships of Danio within the order Cypriniformes: a framework for comparative and evolutionary studies of a model species. Academic Article uri icon


  • The evolutionary relationships of species of Danio and the monophyly and phylogenetic placement of the genus within the family Cyprinidae and subfamily Rasborinae provide fundamentally important phyloinformatics necessary for direct evaluations of an array of pertinent questions in modern comparative biology. Although the genus Danio is not one of the most diverse within the family, Danio rerio is one of the most important model species in biology. Many investigations have used this species or presumed close relatives to address specific questions that have lasting impact on the hypothesis and theory of development in vertebrates. Largely lacking from this approach has been a holistic picture of the exact phylogenetic or evolutionary relationships of this species and its close relatives. One thing that has been learned over the previous century is that many organismal attributes (e.g., developmental pathways, ecologies, behaviors, speciation) are historically constrained and their origins and functions are best explained via a phylogenetic approach. Herein, we provide a molecular evaluation of the phylogenetic placement of the model species Danio rerio within the genus Danio and among hypothesized closely related species and genera. Our analysis is derived from data using two nuclear genes (RAG1, rhodopsin) and five mitochondrial genes (ND4, ND4L, ND5, COI, cyt b) evaluated using parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian analyses. The family Cyprinidae is resolved as monophyletic but the subfamily Rasborinae (priority over Danioinae) is an unnatural assemblage. Danio is identified as a monophyletic group sister to a clade inclusive of the genera Chela, Microrasbora, Devario, and Inlecypris, not Devario nor Esomus as hypothesized in previous studies. Danio rerio is sister to D. kyathit among the species of Danio evaluated in this analysis. Microrasbora and Rasbora are non-monophyletic assemblages; however, Boraras is monophyletic.

published proceedings

  • J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Mayden, R. L., Tang, K. L., Conway, K. W., Freyhof, J., Chamberlain, S., Haskins, M., ... He, S.

citation count

  • 96

complete list of authors

  • Mayden, Richard L||Tang, Kevin L||Conway, Kevin W||Freyhof, Jörg||Chamberlain, Sarah||Haskins, Miranda||Schneider, Leah||Sudkamp, Mitchell||Wood, Robert M||Agnew, Mary||Bufalino, Angelo||Sulaiman, Zohrah||Miya, Masaki||Saitoh, Kenji||He, Shunping

publication date

  • September 2007