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Braz J Biol. 2001 Feb;61(1):95-106.

Dufour glands in the hymenopterans (Apidae, Formicidae, Vespidae): a review.

[Article in English, Portuguese]

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Departamento de Biologia, Instituto de Biociências de Rio Claro, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Avenida 24 A, 1515, Bela Vista, CEP 13506-900, Rio Claro, SP, Brazil.


Associated to the sting apparatus of the aculeate hymenopterans is found the poison gland, originated from the glands associated to the ovipositor of the non-aculeate hymenopterans and the less derived Dufour gland, homologue of the coletterial gland of other insects, and found in all hymenopteran females. The Dufour gland functions is mostly uncertain in hymenopterans but in ants it is involved with communication and defense and in non social bees with the nest building and protection. In wasps possibly with kin-recognition. Differences in morphology and chemical composition of the gland secretion were observed among species, in the same species, between the castes in the social species and among individual of the same caste playing different tasks or belonging to different nest. Its original function of egg-protective substance producing, or favoring the oviposition, appear to have been replaced or complemented in hymenopterans by the production of semiochemicals with function in communication.

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