, Volume 101, Issue 8, pp 603–611 | Cite as

The antennal sensilla of Melipona quadrifasciata (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponini): a study of different sexes and castes

  • Samira Veiga Ravaiano
  • Ríudo de Paiva Ferreira
  • Lucio Antonio de Oliveira Campos
  • Gustavo Ferreira MartinsEmail author
Original Paper


The sensilla of insects are integumental units that play a role as sensory structures and are crucial for the perception of stimuli and for communication. In this study, we compared the antennal sensilla of females (workers and queens), males (haploid (n) and diploid (2n)), and queen-like males (QLMs, resulting from 2n males after juvenile hormone (JH) treatment) in the stingless bee Melipona quadrifasciata. Images of the dorsal antenna surfaces were acquired using a scanning electron microscope. As reported for other hymenopterans, this species exhibits a heterogeneous sensillar distribution along the antennae. Thirteen different types of sensilla were found in the antennae of M. quadrifasciata: trichodea (subtypes I to VI), chaetica (subtypes I and II), placodea, basiconica, ampullacea, coeloconica, and coelocapitula. Sensilla trichodea I were the most abundant, followed by sensilla placodea, which might function in olfactory perception. Sensilla basiconica, sensilla chaetica I, sensilla coeloconica, and sensilla ampullacea were found exclusively in females. In terms of the composition and size of the sensilla, the antennae of QLMs most closely resemble those of the 2n male, although QLMs exhibit a queen phenotype. This study represents the first comparative analysis of the antennal sensilla of M. quadrifasciata. The differences found in the type and amount of sensilla between the castes and sexes are discussed based on the presumed sensillary functions.


Antenna Melipona quadrifasciata Sensilla Stingless bee Scanning electron microscopy 



We acknowledge the Núcleo de Microscopia e Microanálises, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Minas Gerais, for technical assistance. Financial support was provided by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES).

Supplementary material

114_2014_1184_Fig6_ESM.gif (344 kb)
Supplementary Fig

SEM image showing the surface of an antenna of a queen of M. quadrifasciata. The red square represents a selected area (230 × 230 pixels) for sensilla counting in a flagellum (F). (GIF 343 kb)

114_2014_1184_MOESM1_ESM.tif (4.3 mb)
High Resolution (TIFF 4397 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samira Veiga Ravaiano
    • 1
  • Ríudo de Paiva Ferreira
    • 2
  • Lucio Antonio de Oliveira Campos
    • 2
  • Gustavo Ferreira Martins
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Departamento de EntomologiaUniversidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV)ViçosaBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia GeralUniversidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV)ViçosaBrazil

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