ICAR-NBFGR discovers a new catfish species of genus Pangasius, from river Cauvery and named after ICAR as Pangasius icaria.

ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources, Lucknow has discovered and described a new catfish species of the genus Pangasius (Valenciennes, 1840), from the river Cauvery, in peninsular India and named as P. icaria.

The species is described based on specimens collected through exploration of the river from Mettur dam, and in the upstream of Shivanasamudra falls, Chamarajanagar, Karnataka. Pangasius icaria is named after the parent organization Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and uses its abbreviated form. The fish is known among the fisherfolks as ‘Aie Keluthi’ in the vernacular Tamil language.

ICAR-NBFGR discovers a new catfish species of genus Pangasius, from river Cauvery and named after ICAR as Pangasius icaria.  ICAR-NBFGR discovers a new catfish species of genus Pangasius, from river Cauvery and named after ICAR as Pangasius icaria.

The researchers used extensive morphological analysis, skeleton radiography and advanced molecular markers combined with species delimitation computational techniques to conclude that the Pangasius specimens (Figure 1) from river Cauvery are distinct from other species of genus Pangasius and named as P. icaria. The new species can be distinguished from its congeners, known from south and southeast Asia, by presence of widely placed, small rounded vomerine and palatine tooth plates (Figure 2), longer maxillary & mandibular barbels, more vertebrae count 50 (vs. 44–48) and smaller caudal peduncle depth 6.5–8.2% SL (vs. 9.89–13.09% SL). The discovery of this previously unknown species of genus Pangasius from river Cauvery addresses the earlier paleobiogeographic conflict regarding migration of this genus till the southern division of Western Ghats and absence of species divergence.

A total of 22 valid species are known from the river basins of southeast. However, only one species, P. pangasius (Hamilton, 1822) was known from south Asia and south Asia. for over two centuries till ICAR-NBFGR discovered a new species from Nagarjuna Sagar, river Krishna, during 2017 and named P. silasi. The new species P. icaria is phylogenetically close to P. silasi and interestingly both the species are molluscivorous. Holotype (NBFGR/PANPTAM 01) of this new species is registered at National Fish Museum and Repository of ICAR-NBFGR. The name of the species is registered in ZooBank, the online registration system for the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) and will be published in the international journal PeerJ.

Pangasiid catfishes (Pangasius) are popular for their commercial value in both aquaculture and wild capture fisheries as well as delicacy. This discovery is a new opportunity for future research on conservation of the species and evaluation of the new fish genetic resources for its characteristics and utilization potential.

(Source: ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources, Lucknow)