To elucidate the phylogenetic position of Lefua loaches from Aichi and Shizuoka Prefectures of Honshu Island, Japan, we determined their nucleotide sequences for the mitochondrial D-loop region and compared these to sequences from four other Lefua species: L. costata, L. nikkonis, L. echigonia, and L. sp. Loaches identified as L. sp. on the basis of morphology comprised a clade (the L. sp. Tokai population) that grouped together with L. echigonia; hence, the processes involved in evolution within the genus Lefua were unclear. We performed randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analyses to obtain genetic information on nuclear DNA. The RAPD patterns of the L. sp. Tokai population differed from those of the local L. echigonia and L. sp. populations. The L. sp. Tokai population was similar to L. echigonia with regard to mitochondrial DNA but differed from L. echigonia and L. sp. with respect to nuclear DNA; this indicated that the evolutionary background of the L. sp. Tokai population was unique. We suggest that introgression of mitochondria occurred from L. echigonia to the L. sp. Tokai population, and speculate on the process of evolution of the latter population of Lefua. As with six L. echigonia populations and two L. sp. populations, we regard the L. sp. Tokai population as an evolutionary significant unit (ESU) that qualifies for protection as an endangered loach.
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