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Background: Due to their great species and ecological diversity as well as their capacity to produce hundreds of different toxins, cone snails are of interest to evolutionary biologists, pharmacologists and amateur naturalists alike. Taxonomic identification of cone snails still relies mostly on the shape, color, and banding patterns of the shell. However, these phenotypic traits are prone to homoplasy. Therefore, the consistent use of genetic data for species delimitation and phylogenetic inference in this apparently hyperdiverse group is largely wanting. Here, we reconstruct the phylogeny of the cones endemic to Cabo Verde archipelago, a well-known radiation of the group, using mitochondrial (mt) genomes. Results: The reconstructed phylogeny grouped the analyzed species into two main clades, one including Kalloconus from West Africa sister to Trovaoconus from Cabo Verde and the other with a paraphyletic Lautoconus due to the sister group relationship of Africonus from Cabo Verde and Lautoconus ventricosus from Mediterranean Sea and neighboring Atlantic Ocean to the exclusion of Lautoconus endemic to Senegal (plus Lautoconus guanche from Mauritania, Morocco, and Canary Islands). Within Trovaoconus, up to three main lineages could be distinguished. The clade of Africonus included four main lineages (named I to IV), each further subdivided into two monophyletic groups. The reconstructed phylogeny allowed inferring the evolution of the radula in the studied lineages as well as biogeographic patterns. The number of cone species endemic to Cabo Verde was revised under the light of sequence divergence data and the inferred phylogenetic relationships. Conclusions: The sequence divergence between continental members of the genus Kalloconus and island endemics ascribed to the genus Trovaoconus is low, prompting for synonymization of the latter. The genus Lautoconus is paraphyletic. Lautoconus ventricosus is the closest living sister group of genus Africonus. Diversification of Africonus was in allopatry due to the direct development nature of their larvae and mainly triggered by eustatic sea level changes during the Miocene-Pliocene. Our study confirms the diversity of cone endemic to Cabo Verde but significantly reduces the number of valid species. Applying a sequence divergence threshold, the number of valid species within the sampled Africonus is reduced to half.
Abalde, S., Tenorio, M. J., Afonso, C. M. L., Uribe, J. E., Echeverry, A. M., & Zardoya, R. (2017). Phylogenetic relationships of cone snails endemic to Cabo Verde based on mitochondrial genomes. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-017-1069-x