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J Chem Ecol. 2009 Sep;35(9):1117-28. doi: 10.1007/s10886-009-9679-4.

Stingless bees: chemical differences and potential functions in Nannotrigona testaceicornis and Plebeia droryana males and workers.

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Chemistry Institute, University of Campina--UNICAMP, Campinas, SP, Brazil.


Cuticular wax, abdominal and cephalic extracts of foraging workers and males of Nannotrigona testaceicornis and Plebeia droryana, from the "Aretuzina" farm in São Simão, SP, Brazil, were analyzed by GC-MS. The principal constituents were hydrocarbons, terpenes, aldehydes, esters, steroids, alcohols, and fatty acids. Interspecific differences for both cuticular wax and cephalic extracts were found. The composition of cuticular wax and cephalic extracts was similar at the intraspecific level, with minor component differences between males and workers. Abdominal extracts differentiated sexes (male and worker) at the intraspecific and interspecific levels. The main chemical components in abdominal extracts of N. testaceicornis workers and males were geranylgeranyl acetate and (Z)-9-nonacosene, respectively. The principal components of abdominal extracts from P. droryana workers and males were tetradecanal and unsaturated fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic acids), respectively. A secondary alcohol, (S)-2-nonanol, was detected in Plebeia droryana males only, but not in workers. Preliminary field experiments showed that (S)-(+)-2-heptanol and (S)-(+)-2-heptanol/(S)-(+)-2-nonanol (1:1) attracted workers of P. droryana, N. testaceicornis,and Frieseomelitta silvestrii. However, males did not respond suggesting that these compounds do not function as alarm or recruitment pheromones. In addition, racemic mixtures were inactive.

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