A remarkable trend in the evolution of lampreys is the occurrence in most genera of 'paired species', in which the parasitic anadromous lampreys are believed to have given rise to nonparasitic freshwater resident populations. The present work examines the phylogeography of the European paired species Lampetra fluviatilis and Lampetra planeri, in an attempt to elucidate species pair evolutionary history. We studied sequence variation in cytochrome b and ATPase 6, 8 mitochondrial genes in 63 individuals from 21 localities of the paired species throughout their distribution range. Results from the phylogenetic and nested clade analyses were largely consistent, suggesting the existence of three major evolutionary lineages: lineage I and possibly lineage II are widespread throughout Europe, while the most ancestral lineage III is apparently restricted to the Iberian Peninsula. The high genetic diversity observed in the Iberian Peninsula is probably the result of refugial persistence and subsequent accumulation of variation over several ice ages, whereas the low levels of genetic diversity observed in central and northern Europe should reflect a rapid postglacial colonization. Results suggest that L. planeri originated within at least two distinct evolutionary lineages, rejecting the single origin hypothesis. The observed lack of taxa monophyly within lineage I may be the result of ongoing gene flow if the two taxa are alternate life-history forms of a single species. However, structure within lineage I is also consistent with the hypothesis of divergence of taxa after postglacial dispersion (around 2000 generations ago) with incomplete lineage sorting. Further testing of the alternative hypotheses is warranted.
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