fish

Euteleost Tree of Life

[from 2007-2013]

Primary researcher: Ed Wiley, Curator Emeritus, Ichthyology

The euteleosts include some 346 families, 2,935 genera and over 17,400 species of fishes. Over two thirds of all fishes and nearly a third of all vertebrates are euteleosts, which include most of the economically important fishes such as salmons, basses, cods, and tunas. This study informed predictions about the poorly known characteristics of most euteleosts and considerably improved the evolutionary context for understanding model organisms such as the Spotted Green Pufferfish (Tetraodon nigroviridis), Medaka (Oryzias latipes), and Three-Spined Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), which are central to the burgeoning fields of functional genomics, genetics, and evolutionary developmental biology. The culminating phylogenetic study included DNA sequence data from up to 21 genes in 1,416 species, including 6,031 new sequences. The resulting phylogenetic hypotheses was used to produce a revised taxonomy of fishes.

The resulting euteleostean molecular phylogeny was used as a framework for exploring the evolution of morphological features across this clade of fishes. Work at KU by Ed Wiley (Curator Emeritus), Nancy Holcroft (Research Affiliate), and Michael Doosey (postdoctoral fellow) has focused on the homology and development of the caudal skeleton and the evolution and morphology of the pectoral girdle.