Philippine Science Letters
vol. 5 | no. 1 | 2012
published online February 9, 2012


Species and endemicity status of the therapontid "Pigek", Mesopristes cancellatus (Cuvier, 1829) in the Philippines

by Benedict A. Maralit1, Minerva Fatimae H. Ventolero1, Rosario Segundina P. Gaerlan2, Macmod D. Mamalangkap3, Mudjekeewis D. Santos1,*

1 Genetic Fingerprinting Laboratory, Marine Fisheries Research Division, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, Quezon City, Philippines
2 Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – Region I, Pagdalagan Norte, San Fernando, La Union
3 Department of Agriculture and Fisheries – ARMM, ORG Compound, Cotabato City



Aside from "Ludong" or President’s fish (probably Cestraeus plicatilis), "Pigek" is also known in the Philippines as a delectable, highly priced and rare freshwater fish. Early reports indicate that "Pigek" is of the species Mesopristes cancellatus and popularly believed to only be found in Rio Grande de Mindanao, Tamontaka River, and Pulangi River in Cotabato. However, there have also been reports that "Bulidao", a fish caught in Abra River, is of the same species as "Pigek" because of their resemblance. Here, we confirmed the identities of "Pigek" and "Bulidao" collected from Rio Grande de Mindanao and Abra River respectively, using morphomeristics and genetics. Morphological comparison using principal component analysis and three genetic markers: cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI), Control Region, and large subunit ribosomal DNA (16S), revealed that "Bulidao" and "Pigek" are indeed M. cancellatus species and are one and the same. Results also suggest that M. cancellatus is widely distributed throughout the Philippines contrary to what was previously thought. This bodes well for its management and conservation and calls for further studies to determine whether this fish species originate from or constitute a single stock.

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Submitted: January 23, 2011
Revised: November 28, 2011
Accepted: December 1, 2011
Published: February 9, 2012
Editor-in-charge: Gisela P. Padilla-Concepcion
Rachel R. Gotanco
Benjamin Vallejo Jr.
Josefina D. Pante