Tri-locus sequence data reject a "Gondwanan origin hypothesis" for the African/South Pacific crab genus Hymenosoma

Peter R. Teske, Colin L. McLay, Jonathan Sandoval-Castillo, Isabelle Papadopoulos, Brent K. Newman, Charles L. Griffiths, Christopher D. McQuaid, Nigel P. Barker, Gaetan Borgonie, Luciano B. Beheregaray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Crabs of the family Hymenosomatidae are common in coastal and shelf regions throughout much of the southern hemisphere. One of the genera in the family, Hymenosoma, is represented in Africa and the South Pacific (Australia and New Zealand). This distribution can be explained either by vicariance (presence of the genus on the Gondwanan supercontinent and divergence following its break-up) or more recent transoceanic dispersal from one region to the other. We tested these hypotheses by reconstructing phylogenetic relationships among the seven presently-accepted species in the genus, as well as examining their placement among other hymenosomatid crabs, using sequence data from two nuclear markers (Adenine Nucleotide Transporter [ANT] exon 2 and 18S rDNA) and three mitochondrial markers (COI, 12S and 16S rDNA). The five southern African representatives of the genus were recovered as a monophyletic lineage, and another southern African species, Neorhynchoplax bovis, was identified as their sister taxon. The two species of Hymenosoma from the South Pacific neither clustered with their African congeners, nor with each other, and should therefore both be placed into different genera. Molecular dating supports a post-Gondwanan origin of the Hymenosomatidae. While long-distance dispersal cannot be ruled out to explain the presence of the family Hymenosomatidae on the former Gondwanan land-masses and beyond, the evolutionary history of the African species of Hymenosoma indicates that a third means of speciation may be important in this group: gradual along-coast dispersal from tropical towards temperate regions, with range expansions into formerly inhospitable habitat during warm climatic phases, followed by adaptation and speciation during subsequent cooler phases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-33
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • 18S rDNA
  • ANT gene exon 2
  • Africa
  • Australia
  • Crown crab
  • Majoidea
  • Molecular dating
  • New Zealand
  • Parapatric speciation
  • Spider crab
  • mtDNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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