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Comparative study of intramandibular glands of workers, queens and males of stingless bee Scaptotrigona postica Latreille (Hymenoptera: Meliponini)

In: Animal Biology
Authors:
Daniela A. Maschio Departamento de Biologia, Instituto de Biociências de Rio Claro, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), 13506-900 Rio Claro, Brazil

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Luciana F. Gracioli-Vitti Departamento de Biologia, Instituto de Biociências de Rio Claro, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), 13506-900 Rio Claro, Brazil

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Carminda Cruz-Landim Departamento de Biologia, Instituto de Biociências de Rio Claro, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), 13506-900 Rio Claro, Brazil

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The mandibles of bees contain two types of tegumental glands whose function is not clear, despite the hypotheses put forward by several researchers. Although these glands have been found in all the bee species studied so far, observations have been confined mostly to workers of eusocial species in the forager phase. The work reported here involved a study of the morphology of the glands of newly emerged, nurse and forager workers, virgin and fecundated queens, and newly emerged and sexually mature males of Scaptotrigona postica, seeking to identify changes that may be linked to the bee’s life phase. Our findings indicate that the two types of glands are present in the species but not in all life phases or individual classes. The glands consisting of class I cells, the epithelial glands are present only in forager workers and fecundated queens. Glands of type III cells were studied in detail, and gland size was estimated from histological sections. The degree of development of the glands varies according to individual classes and life phases, suggesting different functions during the individual’s life and from one individual to another.

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