American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Sciences

Morpho-physiological Differences of the Spermatheca of Attini Ants (Hymenoptera: Myrmicinae)

Gabriela Ortiz and Maria Izabel Camargo-Mathias

DOI : 10.3844/ajabssp.2006.58.65

American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Sciences

Volume 1, Issue 4

Pages 58-65


The insect's spermatheca store the spermatozoa from the time of copulation until the fertilization of the eggs and consists of a sac, usually associated to glands. The ant species Atta laevigata, Atta sexdens sexdens, Atta sexdens piriventris, Acromyrmex coronatus and Cyphomyrmex muelleri are considered pests, as they cause economics losses to several crops. The spermatheca of these species were examined by scanning electron microscopy, histological and histochemical techniques. Their morphology resembled that of a bilobular pouch partially jointed in the central portion. In A. coronatus and C. muelleri it is flatter in shape than those of other species. The external spermathecal gland, groups of secretory cells, was located at the joining point of the two spermathecal lobes of the reservoir. This was observed in A. laevigata, A. s. sexdens and A. coronatus, like a group of cells, while in C. muelleri, like filaments. An external associated gland was not observed in A. s. piriventris, instead secretory cells were arranged in a simple prismatic epithelium internally lining the spermathecal lumen. This epithelium was also observed in A. s. sexdens, although it was restricted to the joining point of the spermathecal lobes. The presence of an internal secretory epithelium in A. s. piriventris and A. s. sexdens suggests that their physiology for the maintenance of spermatozoa in viable conditions for egg fertilization might differ from A. laevigata, A. coronatus and C. muelleri, in which only an external spermathecal gland was observed.


© 2006 Gabriela Ortiz 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.