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What we did: We used behavioural and biochemical analyses to investigate whether fighting performance of Siamese fighting fish is related to variation in the capacity to supply muscle cells with cellular energy.
What we found: Winners of mock fights supplied their muscle cells with more energy than losers did, exploiting both aerobic and anaerobic energy-supplying pathways to greater extents. Additionally, a key enzyme in the aerobic supply of energy (citrate synthase) functioned at a significantly higher activity level in winners than it did in losers.
What this means: These results underscore the importance of energy supply pathways in determining the outcome of aggressive interactions between animals. In the process, they highlight how adaptations at the subcellular biochemical level can influence the overt behaviours of animals.