Genetic confirmation of the first Mediterranean record of Holacanthus africanus Cadenat, 1951

Genetic confirmation of the first Mediterranean record of Holacanthus africanus Cadenat, 1951

Alan Deidun, Teresa Maggio, Luca Castriota,  Manuela Falautano, Giulio Franzitta

Department of Geosciences, University of Malta, Msida MSD 2080, MALTA
ISPRA (Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale), Lungomare Cristoforo Colombo 4521 (Ex Complesso Roosevelt), 90149 Palermo, ITALY
Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Naples, ITALY

ORCID IDs: A.D. 0000-0002-6919-5374; T.M. 0000-0003-1832-4161; L.C. 0000-0002-3349-9501; M.F. 0000-0001-7844-665X; G.F. 0000-0003-4162-3506


The first Mediterranean record of the pomacanthid Holacanthus africanus, caught within the Maltese waters, was assigned based on morphological and meristic characters. However, molecular and genetic analyses are required to confirm the taxonomic determination and avoid misidentification given the abundance of closely-related Pomacanthidae species and the biogeographic significance of this record for the Mediterranean. At the species level, the analyzed specimens gave a 99.7% identity match with H. africanus. This study represents yet another example of molecular analyses supplementing the conclusions of conventional morphological identification exercises.

Keywords: Guinea angelfish, taxonomic identification, genetic analyses

pdf-dl icon


Alva-Campbell, Y., Floeter, S.R., Robertson, D.R., Bellwood, D.R., Bernardi, G. (2010) Molecular phylogenetics and evolution of Holacanthus angelfishes (Pomacanthidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 56: 456-461.

Bailly, N. (2016) Pomacanthidae. In: The Living Marine Resources of the Eastern Central Atlantic, (eds., Carpenter, K.E., De Angelis, N.), Volume 4: Bony Fishes Part 2 (Perciformes to Tetradontiformes) and Sea Turtles. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes, FAO, Rome, pp. 2674-2679.

Cristescu, M.E. (2015) Genetic reconstructions of invasion history. Molecular Ecology 24: 2212-2225.

Deidun, A., Castriota, L., Falautano, M., Maggio, T. (2017) Yet another angelfish species for the Mediterranean – the first record of Holacanthus africanus Cadenat, 1951 from Maltese waters, central Mediterranean. Bioinvasions Records 6: 373-376.

Hamner, R.M., Freshwater, D.W., Whitfield, P.E. (2007) Mitochondrial cytochrome b analysis reveals two invasive lionfish species with strong founder effects in the western Atlantic. Journal of Fish Biology 71: 214-222.

Kimura, M. (1980) A simple method for estimating evolutionary rates of base substitutions through comparative studies of nucleotide sequences. Journal of Molecular Evolution 16: 111-120.

Lee, W.J., Conroy, J., Howell, W.H., Kocher, T.D. (1995) Structure and evolution of teleost mitochondrial control regions. Journal of Molecular Evolution 41: 54.

Palumbi, S.R., Martin, A.P., Romano, S.L., McMillan, W.O., Stice, L., Grabowsky, C. (1991) The simple fool’s guide to PCR. Special Publication of the Dept. of Zoology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, U.S.A.

Ratnasingham, S., Hebert, P.D. (2007) BOLD: The Barcode of Life Data System (http://www. barcodinglife. org). Molecular Ecology Notes 7: 355-364.

Shen, K.N., Chen, C.H., Hsiao, C.D. (2016) Complete mitogenomes of Guinean angelfish (Holacanthus africanus) and rock beauty (Holacanthus tricolor) (Teleostei: Pomacanthidae). Mitochondrial DNA Part A 27: 2769-2770.

Tamura, K., Stecher, G., Peterson, D., Filipski, A., Kumar, S. (2013) Phylogenetic and molecular evolutionary analyses were conducted using MEGA version 6. Molecular Biology and Evolution 30: 2725-2729.