ISE Researchers Publish Paper on Aggressive Behaviour of Siamese Fighting Fish





ISE Researchers Publish Paper on Aggressive Behaviour of Siamese Fighting Fish in “Frontiers in Zoology”

Researchers from the Institute of Science and Environment (ISE) of the University of Saint Joseph have published a study in Frontiers in Zoology on the aggressive behaviour of the Siamese fighting fish Betta splendens.

This species is used for cultural purposes across southeast Asia. Breeders stage paired-fights between matched for size males in a small tank until the contest is resolved. Breeders discard losing batches and reproduce winner batches with the aim of increasing fight performance. This selection process has been going on for centuries, providing an excellent opportunity to study the biological foundations of aggression in this animal model.

In this study, lead by Andreia Ramos, a PhD student from ISE, it was shown that fighter males are indeed more aggressive than wild-type males, which are not selected for fights. Interestingly, the selection process increased aggression also in females, which are not directly targeted by the selection process. This suggests common genetic and physiological mechanisms to male and female aggression in this species. Although female aggression is common in many species, it is still unclear whether female and male aggression share the same proximate mechanisms or if there are male and female-specific physiological modulators of aggression. The study suggests that female aggression in this species is genetically correlated to male aggression.

This work is part of a larger project funded by the Macao Science and Technology Development Fund (FDCT) and coordinated by ISE’s Dean, Prof. David Gonçalves, investigating the biological mechanisms of aggression in this species (http://ise.usj.edu.mo/research/projects/fight/).

Access to the full study here.

Journal link here.

More information about ISE’s research here.