Research Article
Research Article
Complete mitochondrial genome of the freshwater fish Onychostoma lepturum (Teleostei, Cyprinidae): genome characterization and phylogenetic analysis
expand article infoI-Chen Wang, Hung-Du Lin§, Chih-Ming Liang, Chi-Chun Huang|, Rong-Da Wang, Jin-Quan Yang, Wei-Kuang Wang
‡ Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan
§ National Tainan First Senior High School, Tainan, Taiwan
| Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute, Nantou, Taiwan
¶ Shanghai Ocean University, Shanghai, China
Open Access


The cyprinid genus Onychostoma Günther, 1896 consists of 24 valid species distributed in Southeast Asia, including Taiwan, Hainan, mainland China and the Indochina region. In the present study, we determined the complete mitochondrial genome of O. lepturum, which is 16,598 bp in length, containing 13 protein-coding genes, two rRNA genes, 22 tRNA genes and a typical control region (D-loop). To verify the molecular phylogeny of the subfamily Acrossocheilinae, we provide new insights to better understand the taxonomic status of Acrossocheilus, Onychostoma and Folifer brevifilis. The phylogenetic trees presented three major clades based on the 13 protein-coding genes from 28 Acrossocheilinae species. Clades I and II represent the Onychostoma and Acrossocheilus groups, respectively. Species of Acrossocheilus, Onychostoma and F. brevifilis are included in Clade III, which is considered as an ancestral group. This work provides genomic variation information and improves our understanding of the Acrossocheilinae mitogenome, which will be most valuable in providing new insights for phylogenetic analysis and population genetics research.


Cyprinid, mitogenome, Onychostoma lepturum, phylogeny, population genetics, Southeast Asia


The cyprinid genus Onychostoma Günther, 1896 consists of 24 valid species distributed in Southeast Asia, including Taiwan, Hainan, mainland China and the Indochina region (Song et al. 2018; Froese 2019). Onychostoma is composed of mountain stream cyprinids that are characterized primarily by the possession of a sharp, cornified sheath cutting edge in the lower jaw and no fleshy lower lip (Shan et al. 2000). Among these species, four species are only distributed in the Indochina region, including Laos Vietnam and Thailand, eleven species are endemic to mainland China, one species is endemic to Taiwan island, and the remaining seven species are shared with mainland China and the Indochina region (Froese 2019). Onychostoma lepturum (Boulenger, 1900) is distributed in Laos and Vietnam and can also be found in the Yuanjiang River in mainland China and Hainan Island (Shan et al. 2000; Kottelat 2001).

The Cyprinidae family has the most species of any freshwater fish family. The family encompasses 11 subfamilies, with the genus Onychostoma belonging to the Acrossocheilinae subfamily (Yang et al. 2015). The taxonomic placement of the Asian genus Onychostoma has undergone many changes. Onychostoma was synonymized with the African genus Varicorhinus (e.g., Taki 1975), but recent studies demonstrate that Onychostoma and Varicorhinus fall in two distinct major clades in terms of chromosome numbers and molecular markers (Yang et al. 2015). According to previous studies, Acrossocheilus and Onychostoma were reported to be paraphyletic or polyphyletic (Yang et al. 2015; Wang et al. 2016; Zheng et al. 2016). Among these were Acrossocheilini, Acrossocheilus, Onychostoma and Folifer brevifilis (Peters, 1881), which formed a clade in the molecular analysis (Yang et al. 2015; Wang et al. 2016; Zheng et al. 2016). Three genera (Acrossocheilus, Onychostoma and Folifer) have been previously placed in different taxa together with many other cyprinines (Chen et al. 1984; Yue 2000). However, the phylogenetic relationships of these three genera, based on different molecular markers, has been controversial.

Folifer brevifilis is closely related to O. simum (Sauvage & Dabry de Thiersant, 1874) based on the mitochondrial and nuclear markers (Yang et al. 2015; Wang et al. 2016; Zheng et al. 2016). According to mitochondrial genomes, O. simum and O. gerlachi (Peters, 1881) were in sister groups (Zhang et al. 2018). The genus Acrossocheilus represents three separate lineages: the barred species (e.g., A. beijiangensis (Wu & Lin, 1977) and A. iridescens (Nichols & Pope, 1927)), non-barred species (e.g., A. yunnanensis (Regan, 1904)) and A. monticola (Günther, 1888) based on mitochondrial DNA sequences (Zheng et al. 2016). However, Hou et al. (2020) reassigned species of the Acrossocheilus cluster into two separate clades: Clade I (an ancestral clade), including A. monticola and A. yunnanensis, and Clade II, which was further divided into two sublineages (subclades A and B) based on available whole mitochondrial genomes. Subclade B clustered with A. longipinnis (Wu, 1939), A. iridescens and A. barbodon (Nichols & Pope, 1927), and subclade A included other Acrossocheilus species (e.g., A. parallens (Nichols, 1931), A. hemispinus (Nichols, 1925), A. jishouensis (Zhao, Chen & Li, 1997) (Hou et al. 2020). Yang et al. (2015) and Zheng et al. (2016) proposed that members of Onychostoma be divided into three groups based on morphological and molecular data. Zhang et al. (2018) also showed that the eight species of Onychostoma cluster into three separate lineages based on the whole mitochondrial genome sequence. However, similar research in Zhai et al. (2020) only identified two lineages among nine species of Onychostoma with the same molecular markers. Interestingly, Zhang et al. (2018) proposed that O. rarum (Lin, 1933) was the sister group of O. alticorpus (Oshima, 1920), but recently another study showed that O. rarum seems to be more closely related to O. barbatulum (Pellegrin, 1908) and O. barbatum (Lin, 1931) (Zhai et al. 2020). In the previous studies, the classification of the three groups was inconsistent (Yang et al. 2015; Zheng et al. 2016; Zhang et al. 2018). For example, O. lepturum (Boulenger, 1900) clustered together with O. meridionale (Kottelat, 1998) (Yang et al. 2015). In addition, Wang et al. (2016) and Zheng et al. (2016) proposed that O. lepturum was nested with O. gerlachi.

Recent population analyses suggested that the nucleotide diversity of cyprinids on Hainan Island was lower than that of cyprinids in mainland China (Zhou et al. 2017). A decline in freshwater fish resources has been observed due to the effects of overfishing, water pollution and environmental deterioration in China (Kang et al. 2013, 2014). The phylogenetic relationships among species in the genera Onychostoma and Acrossocheilus have been studied based on morphological data and on nuclear and mitochondrial genes (Wang et al. 2007; Xin 2008; Wang et al. 2016; Zheng et al. 2016). However, the current understanding among members of the genera Onychostoma and Acrossocheilus and their internal phylogenetic relationships remains confusing. The complete mitochondrial genome has alternative molecular markers for phylogenetic analysis capable of providing much more robust phylogenetic reconstructions than smaller portions of the mtDNA (Huang et al. 2017; Hou et al. 2020). Mitogenomes are thought to be reliable markers for reconstructing phylogenies in recent taxonomic and phylogenetic studies of cyprinids (Huang et al. 2017; Chung et al. 2020).

Previous studies suggest an inclusive phylogenetic clade including species from Acrossocheilus, Onychostoma, and Folifer brevifilis based on molecular markers (Yang et al. 2015; Zheng et al. 2016). Although a previous study has characterized the complete mitochondrial genome of O. lepturum (Zhai et al. 2020), the genome annotation, comparative analysis and the phylogenetic relationships of Onychostoma remain poorly understood due to the limited genomic data used. Our approach better informs the conservation of this species; thus, we determined the complete mitochondrial genome of O. lepturum based on next-generation sequencing data and assessed its phylogenetic relationships with another 11 available mitogenomes in the genus Onychostoma and 16 available mitogenomes in the genus Acrossocheilus and F. brevifilis, with an available mitogenome in Spinibarbus hollandi (Oshima, 1919) used as an outgroup.

Materials and methods

Sample and DNA extraction

The sample of Onychostoma lepturum was caught from the Lingshui River in Baoting County of Hainan in China (18°42'07"N, 109°40'44"E). Samples were collected from the field sites with seines, fatally anesthetized with MS-222 (Sigma, St. Louis, MO) and fixed and stored in 100% ethanol. All specimens are lodged in the laboratory of Jin-Quan Yang, Shanghai Ocean University, Key Laboratory of Exploration and Utilization of Aquatic Genetic Resources. All animal experiments were carried out in accordance with the guidelines and with approval of the Animal Research and Ethics Committee of Shanghai Ocean University (permissions, SHOU-DW-2018-021). Total genomic DNA was extracted from muscle tissue using the Genomic DNA Purification Kit (Gentra Systems, Valencia, CA) in the laboratory.

Sequencing and genome annotation and analysis

The complete mitogenome of O. lepturum was obtained from high-throughput sequencing of whole-genome DNA with a HiSeqX Ten platform (Illumina, San Diego, CA) with a paired-end 150 bp approach. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) was used to perform low-coverage whole-genome sequencing to obtain the complete mitogenome according to a previous protocol (Chiu et al. 2018). By using commercial software (Geneious V9, Auckland, New Zealand), approximately 1.1% of raw reads (34,001 out of 29,140,518) were assembled de novo to produce a single, circular form of the complete mitogenome with an average coverage of 245 X. Compared to the corresponding complete mtDNA sequence of genus Onychostoma, 13 protein-coding genes and ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes were identified using Clustal X 1.83 ( Codon usage, nucleotide substitution and base composition were determined using MEGA X (Kumar et al. 2018), and the skewing of the nucleotide composition was measured in terms of AT- and GC-skews according to the following formulas: AT-skew = (A – T)/(A + T) and GC-skew = (G – C)/(G + C) (Perna and Kocher 1995).

Phylogenetic analysis

Phylogenetic analyses using a total of 11 mitogenomes of Onychostoma species, 16 mitogenomes of Acrossocheilus species and one mitogenome of F. brevifilis were performed based on Neighbor-joining (NJ), Maximum-likelihood (ML), and Bayesian (BI) methods, with Spinibarbus hollandi as the outgroup. Twenty-nine mitogenomes were downloaded from NCBI and were aligned using MEGA X (alignment with CLUSTALW) with default settings (Kumar et al. 2018). The best model GTR +G (General Time Reversible model with Gamma distributed rates among sites) was chosen based on the Akaike information criterion (AIC) using the smart model selection algorithm (Lefort et al. 2017), and the ML trees were constructed using PhyML 3.0 software (Guindon et al. 2010). The statistical confidences were assessed through the bootstrap test inferred from 1000 replicates. A NJ tree was constructed based on the Kimura 2-parameter model with 1000 bootstrap replicates using MEGA X (Kumar et al. 2018). The Bayesian inference (BI) tree was conducted using the GTR+G model strategy with MrBayes 3.2.6 (Ronquist and Huelsenbeck 2003), and two independent Markov Chains Monte Carlo (MCMC) chains were run for 5 × 107 generations; the first 50,000 trees before stationarity were discarded as burn-in, and the remaining trees were used to construct the majority-rule consensus trees. Effective sample size (ESS) values, as computed by plotting the log likelihood scores against the generation times using the program Tracer 1.7 (Rambaut et al. 2018), were above 200 for the convergence of MCMC runs.


Mitochondrial genomic structure and composition

In the present study, the complete mitochondrial genome sequence of O. lepturum derived by NGS was found to be 16,598 bp and was deposited in GenBank (accession MT258556). The mitogenome contained 37 typical mitochondrial genes with 13 typical vertebrate protein-coding genes, 2 ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes, 22 tRNAs, and a control region (D-Loop) (Fig. 1). Most of the O. lepturum mitochondrial genes were encoded on the H-strand, although the ND6 and eight tRNA genes (tRNAGln, tRNAAla, tRNAAsn, tRNACys, tRNATyr, tRNASer, tRNAGlu and tRNAPro) were encoded on the L-strand (Fig. 1). The total length was found to be similar to that of the other Onychostoma sequences compared, differing from them by between 1 and 9 bp. The mitogenome base composition is 31.3% A, 16.2% G, 24.0% T, and 28.6% C, with a slight AT bias (55.3%). Eleven of thirteen protein-coding genes in O. lepturum started with a typical ATG codon, except for the COI and ATP6 genes, which were GTG. Seven protein-coding genes ended with the termination codon TAA (ND1, CO1, ATP8, ATP6, ND4L, ND5, and ND6), while the remaining six genes terminated with a single base T (Table 1). The 22 tRNA genes ranged in size from 67 to 76 bp, and the length of tRNACys gene (67 bp) was the shortest, whereas the longest were the tRNALeu and tRNALys genes (76 bp). The noncoding control region (D-loop) is located between tRNAPhe and tRNAPro and is 937 bp in length (Table 1). The genes in the O. lepturum mitogenome were closely arranged with overlapping and interval phenomena. There is a total of 22 bp in overlaps between six gene junctions, and each single overlap ranged in size from 1 to 7 bp, with the longest overlapping region (7 bp) located between ATP8/ATP6 and ND4L/ND4, 4 bp of overlapping regions between ND5 and ND6 and fewer than 2 bp at the remaining three positions (Table 1). However, there are 11 intergenic spacer regions ranging in size from 1 to 35 bp (67 bp in total), and the largest spacer (35 bp) is located between tRNAAsn and tRNACys (Table 1).

Table 1.

Organization of the mitochondrial genome of Onychostoma lepturum.

Locus Position Codon
start stop size(bp) start stop anti-codon intergenic nucleotide* strand+
tRNAPhe 1 69 69 GAA 0 H
12s rRNA 70 1030 961 0 H
tRNAVal 1031 1102 72 TAC 0 H
16s rRNA 1103 2783 1681 0 H
tRNALeu 2784 2859 76 TAA 0 H
ND1 2860 3834 975 ATG TAA 0 H
tRNAlle 3840 3911 72 GAT 4 H
tRNAGln 3910 3980 71 TTG -2 L
tRNAMet 3983 4051 69 CAT 2 H
ND2 4052 5096 1045 ATG T– 0 H
tRNATrp 5097 5168 72 TCA 0 H
tRNAAla 5171 5239 69 TGC 2 L
tRNAAsn 5241 5313 73 GTT 1 L
tRNACys 5349 5415 67 GCA 35 L
tRNATyr 5415 5486 72 GTA -1 L
COI 5488 7038 1551 GTG TAA 1 H
tRNASer 7039 7109 71 TGA 0 L
tRNAAsp 7113 7184 72 GTC 3 H
COII 7197 7887 691 ATG T– 12 H
tRNALys 7888 7963 76 TTT 0 H
ATP8 7965 8129 165 ATG TAG 1 H
ATP6 8123 8805 683 GTG TA- -7 H
COIII 8806 9590 785 ATG TAA 0 H
tRNAGly 9591 9662 72 TCC 0 H
ND3 9663 10011 349 ATG T– 0 H
tRNAArg 10012 10081 70 TCG 0 H
ND4L 10082 10378 297 ATG TAA 0 H
ND4 10372 11752 1381 ATG T– -7 H
tRNAHis 11753 11821 69 GTG 0 H
tRNASer 11822 11890 69 GCT 0 H
tRNALeu 11892 11964 73 TAG 1 H
ND5 11965 13788 1824 ATG TAA 0 H
ND6 13785 14306 522 ATG TAG -4 L
tRNAGlu 14307 14375 69 TTC 0 L
Cytb 14381 15521 1141 ATG T– 5 H
tRNAThr 15522 15594 73 TGT 0 H
tRNAPro 15594 15663 70 TGG -1 L
D-loop 15664 16598 935 0 H
Figure 1. 

Gene map of the mitochondrial genome of Onychostoma lepturum. Two rRNA genes (in red); 13 coding genes (in green); 22 tRNA genes and control region (D-loop) (in yellow). (Color figure online).

We assessed the amino acid (AA) codon usage by calculating the relative synonymous codon usage (RSCU) values in 13 PCGs, which are shown in Fig. 2a. A total of 3803 codons were encoded by 13 PCGs, and the most frequently used codons were CUA (4.7%), ACA (3.4%) and ACC (3.1%). In the PCGs of the O. lepturum mitogenome, the AA components and their codon usage reveal that one codon family (Trp) represents more than 100 codons per thousand codons (CDpT), three codon families (Cys, Met and Ser2) between 50 CDpT and 100 CDpT, and the other twenty codon families less than 50 CDpT (Fig. 2b).

Figure 2. 

Comparison of codon usage in mitochondrial genomes of Onychostoma lepturum a Relative synonymous codon usage (RSCU) in the Onychostoma lepturum mitogenome. Codon families are provided on the X-axis, and the RSCU values, on the Y-axis b Codon distribution in the Onychostoma lepturum mitogenome. CDspT, codons per thousand codons. Codon families are provided on the X-axis.

Comparative analysis of nucleotide base composition showed that the composition of O. lepturum is identical to that of the other Onychostoma fishes, and most of the genes within these Onychostoma species maintain a consistent position and direction (Table 2). The analysis of our complete dataset nucleotide frequencies confirmed a bias for A, showing averages of 31.3% of A, 16.2% G, 24.0% T, and 28.6% C, with a slight AT bias (55.3%), which is similar to the patterns found in most fish mitogenomes. The PCGs have a slightly higher AT content (54.7%) than ribosomal RNA genes (53.6%) (Table 2). Furthermore, the A+T content at codon site 2 of PCGs (58.7%) was slightly higher than that at site 3 (58.5%), while the A+T content at the first site was the lowest (47.1%). The A+T-rich region was the main noncoding region (control region) of mitogenomes, has the highest A+T content (66.5%), which was significantly higher than other genes of the mitogenome and was typical of animal mitochondrial genomes (Zhang and Hewitt 1997; Zhou et al. 2017). The AT and GC skews of O. lepturum are 0.132 and -0.277, respectively (Table 2). The GC-skew of all genes was negative and revealed a similar pattern of base composition behavior for the O. lepturum mitogenome, except for tRNA which was positive (0.049) (Table 2). Strand asymmetry in nucleotide composition is usually reflected by AT and GC skews, which is a remarkable feature of animal mitochondrial genomes (Wei et al. 2010). The mitogenome contents of 11 Onychostoma species were calculated and showed an A+T bias, ranging from 55.3% (O. lepturum) to 56.6% (O. barbatulum) (Suppl. material 1: Table S1). The analysis of Onychostoma mitochondria populations showed distinct skew patterns, in which AT was positive and GC was negative (Suppl. material 1: Table S1).

Table 2.

Nucleotide composition of the Onychostoma lepturum mitochondrial genome.

Length (bp) T% C% A% G% A+T% AT-skew% GC-skew%
Genome 16598 24 28.6 31.3 16.2 55.3 0.132 0.277
PCGs 11409 25.7 29.4 29 15.8 54.7 0.06 -0.3
1st codon position 3807 20.3 27 26.8 25.8 47.1 0.138 -0.023
2nd codon position 3802 40.1 27.7 18.6 13.6 58.7 -0.366 -0.341
3rd codon position 3800 16.8 33.6 41.7 8 58.5 0.423 -0.615
rRNA 2642 19.1 25.8 34.5 20.6 53.6 0.287 -0.112
tRNA 1566 26.6 21.5 28.2 23.7 54.8 0.029 0.049
D-loop 935 32.5 20.3 34 13.2 66.5 0.022 -0.212

The 22 tRNA genes in the O. lepturum mitogenome are interspersed between rRNA and protein-coding genes, with sizes ranging from 67 to 76 bp; tRNACys was the shortest (67 bp), while tRNALeu and tRNALys were the longest (76 bp). The arrangement of 8 L-strand encoded and 14 H-strand-encoded tRNA genes is similar to the distributions observed in other Onychostoma species. Two rRNA genes were identified on the L-strand in O. lepturum, which is similar to the other Onychostoma species, with a total length of 2642 bp. The 16S rRNA is located between tRNAVal and tRNALeu, with a length of 1681 bp, whereas the 12S rRNA is located between tRNAPhe and tRNAVal, with a length of 961 bp. Regarding the two rRNA genes, the GC-skew is slightly negative (–0.112), but the AT-skew is strongly positive (0.287). The total A+T content of the rRNA genes (53.1%) is lower than those of the total tRNA genes (55.0%) and the total PCG genes (55.6%).

Phylogenetic analyses

To further investigate the phylogenetic position of O. lepturum within the genera Acrossocheilus and Onychostoma, the concatenated set of nucleotide sequences of available whole mitochondrial genomes from 10 Onychostoma species, 16 Acrossocheilus species and F. brevifilis were derived for phylogenetic reconstruction, along with S. hollandi as an outgroup. The ML, NJ and BI analyses showed the same topology, representing the three main lineages (Clades I, II and III). The phylogenetic tree revealed that Clade I is the Onychostoma group, which can be separated into two subclades (subclades I-A and I-B) with strong support (Fig. 3). The phylogenetic position of O. lepturum is closer to that of O. meridionale than to that of O. simum and O. gerlachi in subclade I-A. Subclade I-B clusters with five species of Onychostoma, including O. barbatulum, O. barbatum, O. fangi, O. lini and O. macrolepis. Clade II is the Acrossocheilus group and includes 14 species, which is in accordance with traditional classifications based on morphology and previous phylogenetic studies based on whole mitochondrial genomes (Yuan et al. 2015; Hou et al. 2020). Species of Acrossocheilus, Onychostoma and F. brevifilis are included in Clade III, which is considered as an ancestral group, including A. monticola, A. yunnanensis, O. rarum, O. alticorpus and F. brevifilis.

Figure 3. 

Phylogenetic trees derived from Maximum-Likelihood (ML) and Neighbor Joining (NJ) approaches based on whole mitochondrial genomes. The numbers on the nodes are the bootstrap values of ML/NJ. The number after the species name is the GenBank Accession Number.


Mitochondrial genome of O. lepturum

The total length of the Onychostoma mitogenomes ranged between 16,590 (O. rarum) and 16,601 bp (O. simum and O. gerlachi), while that of the O. lepturum is a typical closed circular DNA molecule with a length of 16,598 bp (Fig. 1; GenBank No. MK296412), making it similar to other Onychostoma sequences, which differ by between 3 and 8 bp (16,590 bp for O. rarum and 16,601 bp for O. simum, O. gerlachi) (Suppl. material 1: Table S1). We suggest that the variability observed in closely related mitogenome length can be caused by variations in tandem repeat elements within the control region (D-Loop); differences in the lengths of intergenic regions are also a likely explanation for the gene overlaps (Fig. 1). The nucleotide composition of the O. lepturum mitogenome is highly biased toward A+T (55.3%), which is similar to the values in other Onychostoma species and displays strand skewness consistent with asymmetrical mutation pressure (Bielawski and Gold 2002) (Suppl. material 1: Table S1). Of the 22 identified tRNAs, the AT and GC skews were both positive in the O. lepturum mitogenome, which is common in Onychostoma mitogenomes. Comparative mitogenomic structure, organization and gene arrangement analyses of all Onychostoma mitogenomes are conserved without any structural rearrangement. Among Onychostoma fishes that also exhibited highly similar nucleotide compositions and codon usage patterns, a slight difference was also observed in some species. Ten of the thirteen total PCGs used ATG as the initiation codon (ND1, ND2, ND4, ND4L, ND5, ND6, COII, COIII, ATP8, and Cyt b), whereas the COI gene started with the GTG codon in all Onychostoma species. Most protein-coding genes started with a traditional ATG codon except for COI in Onychostoma mitogenomes, which is consistent with previous reports for other fish mitogenomes (Satoh et al. 2016). In the ATP6 gene, only O. lepturum was found with GTG as the initiation codon, and the other Onychostoma species used the typical ATG codon. In contrast, only ND3 held diverse start codons in Onychostoma mitogenomes. Five Onychostoma species were initiated by GTG, including O. alticorpus, O. rarum, O. simum, O. gerlachi and O. meridionale. The other Onychostoma species was initiated by ATG (Table 3). In addition, six PCGs (ND1, COI, ATP8, ND4L, ND5 and ND6) harbored the typical termination codons (TAA and TAG) in the Onychostoma mitochondrial genome, and the remaining PCGs were terminated with incomplete codons (T- and TA-). The incomplete termination codon T in the Onychostoma mitochondrial genome was a common termination codon (ND2, ND3, ND4, COII and Cyt b), except for O. alticorpus, which was terminated by TAA in the ND3 gene (Table 3); however, the COI, ND4L and ND5 genes used TAA, the ATP8 gene used TAG, while ND1 and ND6 used TAG or TAA (Table 3). ND1 and ND6 are terminated with the codon TAA for most Onychostoma species, which is different from the termination codon (TAG) observed for ND1 in O. barbatulum, O. simum and O. gerlachi and ND6 in O. lepturum, O. barbatulum, O. alticorpus, O. simum, O. gerlachi and O. meridionale (Table 3). We suggest that ND1 and ND6 appear to have evolved relatively rapidly in these Onychostoma species, and a similar observation has also been reported in a previous study of Acrossocheilus mitogenomes (Hou et al. 2020).

Table 3.

Composition and skewness in mitogenomes of 12 Onychostoma species.

Species ND1 ND2 COI COII ATP8 ATP6 COIII ND3 ND4L ND4 ND5 ND6 Cytb GenBank

Molecular phylogeny of Onychostoma

Taki (1975) suggested that two groups were subgenera of the genus Onychostoma: Onychostoma and Gymnostomus. These two groups are divided based on their possession of osseous simple dorsal rays; the subgenus Gymnostomus includes those having non-osseous rays, while the subgenus Onychostoma includes those with osseous simple dorsal rays (Taki 1975). There are five species (O. lepturum, O. barbatulum, O. barbatum, O. macrolepis and O. alticorpus) belonging to the subgenus Gymnostomus, whereas the remaining species belongs to the subgenus Onychostoma. According to the mouth width, mouth-opening shape, and post-labial groove length, previous studies divided members of Onychostoma into three groups (Chen 1989; Xin et al. 2009). Our results showed that the Onychostoma with osseous simple dorsal rays (O. simum, O. rara, O. lini, O. meridionale, O. gerlachi and O. fangi) could not be successfully clustered together (Fig. 3). In addition, molecular evidence revealed that Clade I, including subclades I-A (O. lepturum, O. meridionale, O. simum and O. gerlachi) and subclade I-B (O. barbatulum, O. barbatum, O. fangi, O. lini and O. macrolepis), comprise a stable monophyletic group.

Comparison was made between the phylogenetic trees constructed by Yang et al. (2015), Wang et al. (2016) and Zheng et al. (2016), whereby input sequences such as mtDNA and nuclear sequences were used for phylogeny. One of the similarities between all studies is that Clade I in the Onychostoma group comprises a stable monophyletic group distinct from Acrossocheilus and F. brevifilis. Following our study, O. simum was consistently grouped closely with O. gerlachi in the Onychostoma group (Clade I-A), as in the previous study based on the mitogenome data (Zhang et al. 2018). However, one distinct difference among these above mentioned studies is that in the trees constructed by Yang et al. (2015), Wang et al. (2016) and Zheng et al. (2016) based on nuclear and mitochondrial genes, O. simum was found to be more closely related to O. alticorpus and F. brevifilis. Onychostoma simum was more closely related to O. gerlachi and was distributed in the Lancang Jiang and Red River basins (Song et al. 2018), as described in a previous study based on the biogeography of Onychostoma (Zhang et al. 2018). The resulting relationships are not consistent with earlier conclusions based on morphological characteristics (Taki 1975; Xin et al. 2009) or on nuclear and mitochondrial genes (Wang et al. 2007; Yang et al. 2016; Zheng et al. 2016). However, the single-gene evolutionary tree of the COI gene is inconsistent with that of combined complete mitochondrial genome, suggesting that O. simum (KF021233.1) were incorrectly identified. According to NCBI data and Wang et al. (2013), specimens KF021233.1 did not have an associated collection site (and we suggest that specimens KF021233.1 were O. gerlachi). Our results show that O. lepturum was found to be more closely related to O. meridionale than O. gerlachi. Onychostoma lepturum and O. meridionale occur in Laos and Vietnam, while O. lepturum is distributed in the Yuanjiang River in mainland China and Hainan Island. According to the previous biogeographic studies, the Gulf of Tonkin once formed part of the coastal plain of mainland China and the River in Vietnam and Hainan Island drained into the Gulf of Tonkin during Pleistocene glaciations (Zhang et al. 2020).

Recent studies have revealed similar scenarios in the genetic patterns of Garra orientalis (Yang et al. 2016), Aphyocypris normalis (Huang et al. 2019) and Opsariichthys hainanensis (Zhang et al. 2020). Xin et al. (2009) proposed that O. lini and O. barbata were found to be related closer to O. macrolepis based on morphological characters. This result suggested that the phylogenetic relationship of subclade I-B are concordant with the molecular phylogenetic and morphological analyses. In addition, Clade II is the Acrossocheilus group, which includes 14 species, comprising a stable monophyletic group distinct from the Onychostoma group in the ML, NJ and BI trees (Fig. 3). The present study strongly supported that some species of Acrossocheilus, Onychostoma and F. brevifilis belong to the monophyletic group (Clade III), including A. monticola, A. yunnanensis, O. rarum, O. alticorpus and F. brevifilis. Interestingly, our results corroborate the previous finding that O. rarum is the sister group of O. alticorpus (Hoang et al. 2015; Song et al. 2018; Zhang et al. 2018), but Zhai et al. (2020) suggested that O. rarum appeared to be more closely related with O. barbatulum and O. barbatum. We suggested that the specimens of O. rarum (NC022869.1) were also misidentified. Moreover, all of these members were previously confirmed as a monophyletic group (Yuan et al. 2015; Hou et al. 2020). Overall, the complete mtDNA sequence of O. lepturum provides useful genetic data for addressing further questions in the systematics and evolutionary history of Onychostoma, for understanding its molecular diversity and for genetic conservation applications.


This work was supported by grants from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (MOST 108-2221-E-035-057 and MOST 109-2221-E-035-034). There are no conflicts of interest in this study.


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Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 

Table S1

I-Chen Wang, Hung-Du Lin, Chih-Ming Liang, Chi-Chun Huang, Rong-Da Wang, Jin-Quan Yang, Wei-Kuang Wang

Data type: DNA

Explanation note: Composition and skewness in the genus Onychostoma mitogenomes.

This dataset is made available under the Open Database License ( The Open Database License (ODbL) is a license agreement intended to allow users to freely share, modify, and use this Dataset while maintaining this same freedom for others, provided that the original source and author(s) are credited.
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