Selection for winners impacts the endocrine system in the Siamese fighting fish

Resource type
Selection for winners impacts the endocrine system in the Siamese fighting fish
In southeast Asia, males of the Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens, have been selected across centuries for winning paired staged fights and previous work has shown that males from fighter strains are more aggressive than wild-types. This strong directional selection for winners is likely to have targeted aggression-related endocrine systems, and a comparison between fighter and wild-type strains can bring into evidence the key hormones implicated in aggression. Here, we compared the plasma levels of the androgen 11-ketotestosterone (KT) and of the corticosteroid cortisol (F) in F2 males of a fighter and a wild-type strain raised under similar laboratory conditions. We show that F was generally lower in fighter as compared with wild-type males, while no overall differences in KT levels were detected between strains. When presented with a mirror-induced aggressive challenge, post-fight levels of F increased but more significantly so in wild-type males, while KT increased in males of both strains. After the challenge, fighter males had higher levels of KT as compared with wild-type males, while the pattern for F was opposite. As compared with animals in social groups, wild-type males placed under social isolation had lower F levels, while KT decreased for fighters. Taken together, this data suggests that while wild-type males responded to aggression with an increase in circulating levels of both androgens and corticosteroids, males selected for winning fights maintained a blunt F response, increasing only KT levels. These data agree with the hypothesis that a combination of high levels of androgens and low levels of corticosteroids is associated with high aggression. Overall, these results seem to indicate that selection for winning had a stronger impact in the hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal axis than in the hypothalamus-pituitary–gonadal axis in B. splendens.
General and Comparative Endocrinology
Journal Abbr
General and Comparative Endocrinology
4/11/23, 10:06 AM
Library Catalog (Crossref)
Ramos, A., & Gonçalves, D. (2022). Selection for winners impacts the endocrine system in the Siamese fighting fish. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 318, 113988.