Vitellogenin content in fat body and ovary homogenates of workers and queens of Melipona quadrifasciata anthidioides during vitellogenesis
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Vitellogenin (Vg) is an egg yolk protein that is produced primarily in the fat body of most female insects. In the advanced social structure of eusocial honeybees, the presence of the queen inhibits egg maturation in the workers ovaries. However in the stingless bee Melipona quadrifasciata, the workers always develop ovaries and lay a certain amount of eggs while provisioning the brood cells with larval food during what is known as the worker nurse phase. The present work is a comparative study of the presence of Vg in homogenates of the fat bodies and ovaries of the nurse workers, and the virgin and physogastric queens of M. quadrifasciata. The presence of Vg was determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and immunoblotting using Apis mellifera anti-egg antibody. Vg was not detected in the fat bodies or ovaries of the workers, but it was found in the ovaries of virgin and physogastric queens and in the fat body of physogastric queens. The results are discussed, taking into account the reproductive state of the individuals and the other possible roles of Vg, such as a storage protein for metoabolism of other organs.