Barbosa-Costa, K., Kerr, W.E. & Carvalho-Zilse, G.A. Neotrop Entomol (2012) 41: 42. doi:10.1007/s13744-011-0017-5
The number of Malpighian tubules in larvae and adults of bees is variable. Larvae of Apis mellifera L. have four Malpighian tubules, while adults have 100 tubules. In stingless bees, this number varies from four to eight. The objectives of this study were to provide characteristics of the Malpighian tubules as well as to quantify their number in larvae and adults of six species of Meliponinae, Melipona seminigramerrillae Cockerell, Melipona compressipes manaosensis Schwarz, Melipona rufiventris Lepeletier, Scaptotrigona Moure, Frieseomelitta Ihering, and Trigona williana Friese. Malpighian tubules were dissected from larvae and adults, measured, quantified, and maintained in microtubes with Dietrich’s solution. The numbers of Malpighian tubules were constant only for larvae of M. rufiventris (four and eight) and Scaptotrigona sp. (four). The most frequent number of tubules in the Melipona group was seven and eight in larvae, and 70 and 90 in adults. In the Trigona group were four and 20 to 40, for larvae and adults, respectively. The results showed differences in the number of Malpighian tubules among the species analyzed and also between the larvae and adults of the same species. Despite the variation observed, species of the group Melipona always have a larger number and longer Malpighian tubules in both larvae and adults as compared to the Trigona group, which may indicate an evolutionary trend of differentiation between these groups.