Molecular phylogeny and phylogeography of ricefishes (Teleostei: Adrianichthyidae: Oryzias) in Sri Lanka

Ricefishes of the genus Oryzias occur commonly in the fresh and brackish waters in coastal lowlands ranging from India across Southeast Asia and on to Japan. Among the three species of Oryzias recorded from peninsular India, two widespread species, O. carnaticus and O. dancena, have previously been reported from Sri Lanka based on museum specimens derived from a few scattered localities. However, members of the genus are widespread in the coastal lowlands of Sri Lanka, a continental island separated from India by the shallow Palk Strait. Although recent molecular phylogenies of Adrianichthyidae represent near-complete taxon representation, they lack samples from Sri Lanka. Here, based on sampling at 13 locations representative of the entire geographic and climatic regions of the island's coastal lowlands, we investigate for the first time the molecular phylogenetic relationships and phylogeography of Sri Lankan Oryzias based on one nuclear and two mitochondrial markers. Sri Lankan Oryzias comprise two distinct non-sister lineages within the javanicus species group. One of these is represented by samples exclusively from the northern parts of the island; it is recognized as O. dancena. This lineage is recovered as the sister group to the remaining species in the javanicus group. The second lineage represents a species that is widespread across the island's coastal lowlands. It is recovered as the sister group of O. javanicus and is identified as O. cf. carnaticus. Ancestral-range estimates suggest two independent colonizations of Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka by widespread ancestral species of Oryzias during two discrete temporal windows: late Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene. No phylogeographic structure is apparent in Sri Lankan Oryzias, suggesting that there are no strong barriers to gene flow and dispersal along the coastal floodplains, as is the case also for other generalist freshwater fishes in the island

Sri Lanka