American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Sciences

Study of the Mandibular Glands of Ant Workers Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Forel, 1908) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Focusing the Ultrastructural Cytochemistry

Lorena Favaro Pavon and Maria Izabel Camargo Mathias

DOI : 10.3844/ajabssp.2006.27.35

American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Sciences

Volume 1, Issue 2

Pages 27-35


The mandibular glands of hymenopterans in general are paired structures located on each side of the head. These glands possess an excretory duct located at the internal surface of the mandible articulation, through which these glands release the secretion they produce. The mandibular glands of the minima, media and soldier worker of the ant Atta sexdens rubropilosa were analyzed by the methods of ultrastructural cytochemistry to verify the composition of the produced secretions. The results evidenced the presence of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids in the different portions of the mandibular glands. The cytochemistry also showed that the lipids present in the mandibular gland of the individuals of three worker castes would have at least two different sources: the smooth endoplasmic reticulum as well as the mitochondria present in the secretory cells cytoplasm. The present study showed that the mandibular glands of the individuals of the three worker castes of A. s. rubropilosa mainly the soldiers and media workers, who are individuals that perform tasks outside the nests and are thus more exposed to predation and/or infection and also the minima workers, who take care of the fungal culture, produce compounds that could play roles in alarm and/or defense.


© 2006 Lorena Favaro Pavon and Maria Izabel Camargo Mathias. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.