Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 479–486 | Cite as

Characterization of cuticular hydrocarbons of diploid and haploid males, workers and queens of the stingless bee Melipona quadrifasciata

  • A. A. Borges
  • M. J. Ferreira-Caliman
  • F. S. Nascimento
  • L. A. O. Campos
  • M. G. Tavares
Research Article


Males, queens and workers of stingless bees show differences in external morphology, behaviour and roles within a colony. In addition, each individual has a cuticular chemical signature responsible for mutual communication that is essential for maintaining the integrity of the colony. In this paper we characterize the cuticular hydrocarbon composition of newly emerged diploid and haploid males, workers and virgin queens of Melipona quadrifasciata by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis. This is the first time that the cuticular profile of diploid males in a species of stingless bee has been characterized. We found differences in the cuticular hydrocarbon composition among males, workers and virgin queens, recording both qualitative and quantitative differences among individuals of different phenotypes. However, no compound was found exclusively in diploid males. The cuticular chemical profiles of haploid and diploid males were very similar to those of workers. Moreover, the cuticular lipids of males and workers were significantly different from those of queens. Tricosane, pentacosene-2 and 7-methyl-heptacosane were the compounds responsible for this significant separation. This result correlates with the behavioural and morphological differences among these phenotypes.


Cuticular lipids Diploid male Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry Meliponines 



We thank Izabel Cristina Casanova Turatti for support with the GC–MS analysis. This research was supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG) and CNPq for scholarship provided to A.A. Borges.


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. A. Borges
    • 1
  • M. J. Ferreira-Caliman
    • 2
  • F. S. Nascimento
    • 2
  • L. A. O. Campos
    • 1
  • M. G. Tavares
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia GeralUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de FilosofiaCiências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São PauloRibeirão PretoBrazil

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