A comparative cytochemical study of the dufour gland in the eusocial bee Apis mellifera Linne, 1758 and Melipona bicolor Lepeletier, 1836
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Dufour glands of Apis mellifera and Melipona bicolor were studied under light and transmission electron microscopy, using the cytochemical techniques of mercury bromophenol blue for protein detection, imidazole-buffered osmium tetroxide selective staining of unsaturated lipids, lanthanum nitrate for intercellular junction identification and zinc-iodide-osmium tetroxide for cytoplasmic endomembrane visualization. The results in both species corroborated the lipid nature of the gland secretion and showed in A. mellifera the poverty of the synthetic machinery in the worker gland cells in comparison with the queen, as expected by previous biochemical analyses. The pathway of the exogenous compounds of the secretion is intracellular, since substances can penetrate the cell folds and intercellular junctions, but their access to the, gland lumen is barred by the apical intercellular junctions.