The venom gland of queens of Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera, Apidae): morphology and secretory cycle

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Roat, Thaisa Cristina
Ferreira Nocelli, Roberta Cornelio
Landim, Carminda da Cruz

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Elsevier B.V.


The venom gland of queens of Apis mellifera was examined through light and transmission electron microscopy and subjected to electrophoretic analyses. Virgin queens exhibited prismatic secretory cells containing large amounts of rough endoplasmic reticulum with dilated cisternae, open secretory spaces, numerous vacuoles and granules scattered in the cytoplasm, and spherical nuclei with numerous nucleoli. The secretion produced was non-refringent under polarized light and the electrophoretic analysis of glandular extracts revealed five main protein bands. In mated queens, the venom gland exhibited a high degree of degeneration. Its secretion was refringent under polarized light and one of the main bands was absent in the electrophoretic pattern obtained. The morphological aspects observed are in agreement with the function of this gland in queens, given that virgin queens use venom in battles for the dominance of the colony, a situation that occurs as soon as they emerge, while fertilized queens rarely use venom. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.



virgin queen, mated queen, ultrastructure, electrophoresis

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Micron. Oxford: Pergamon-Elsevier B.V., v. 37, n. 8, p. 717-723, 2006.