Evolution of African barbs from the Lake Victoria drainage system, Kenya Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.

altmetric score

  • 3.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Ndeda, V. M., Mateos, M., & Hurtado, L. A.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Ndeda, Violet M||Mateos, Mariana||Hurtado, Luis A

publication date

  • June 2018