With 210 genera and 2010 species, Cyprinidae is the largest freshwater fish family in the world. Several papers, based on morphological and molecular data, have been published and have led to some solid conclusions, such as the close relationships between North American phoxinins and European leuciscins. However, the relationships among major subgroups of this family are still not well resolved, especially for those East Asian groups. In the present paper, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region, 896-956 base pairs, of 17 representative species of East Asian cyprinids was sequenced and compared with those of 21 other cyprinids to study their phylogenetic relationships. After alignment, there were 1051 sites. The comparison between pairwise substitutions and HKY distances showed that the mtDNA control region was suitable for phylogenetic study. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that there are two principal lineages in Cyprinidae: Cyprinine and Leuciscine. In Cyprinine, the relationships could be a basal Labeoinae, an intermediate Cyprininae, and a diversified Barbinae (including Schizothroaxinae). In Leuciscine, Rasborinae is at the basal position; Gobioninae and Leuciscinae are sister groups; the East Asian cultrin-xenocyprinin taxa form a large monophyletic group with some small affiliated groups; and the positions of Acheilognathinae and Tincinae are still uncertain.
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