Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 315, Issue 1, pp 125–138 | Cite as

Dufour gland of the digger wasp Liris niger: structure and developmental and biochemical aspects

  • Werner GnatzyEmail author
  • Walter Volknandt
  • Stefan Schulz
Regular Article


The tubiform Dufour gland in the digger wasp species Liris niger is about 1.0 mm long (∅ 0.15 mm). An alternating arrangement of longitudinal and circumferential bundles of striated muscle fibers surrounds the gland. The Dufour gland, together with the venom gland, enters the sting base and terminates in the sting. The glandular epithelium is monolayered. Glands about 3 day after imaginal ecdysis have an empty lumen but a thick lining epithelium. The gland cells are characterized by a well-developed vesicular smooth endoplasmic reticulum, sparse rough ER and numerous free ribosomes. They also exhibit several electron-lucent vesicles and autophagic vacuoles. Secretion of electron-dense material via the gland cuticle into the gland lumen is apparent. Glands more than 20 days after imaginal ecdysis display a large lumen and a thin epithelium. The cells show signs of degeneration with numerous cytolytic inclusions. Dufour gland liquid contains numerous polypeptides of molecular weights ranging from 14 to about 200 kDa. In addition the secretion consists predominantly of straight-chain hydrocarbons, accompanied by small amounts of esters. The major hydrocarbons are pentadecane and (Z)-8-heptadecene. Dufour gland secretion may have several functions: (1) the polypeptides might be involved in the gluing process of the eggs, while (2) the hydrocarbon oils may function as lubricants for the lancets and (3) might soften the secretion, thus allowing easier application of the glue. The lipophilic volatile material (4) might also be involved in pheromonal signaling.


Dufour gland Morphology Ultrastructure Age-related changes Gland secretion Polypeptide contents Hydrocarbons Liris niger (Sphecidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta) 



We wish to thank Dr. U. Maschwitz for valuable comments and Dr. M. Jatho for numerous constructive suggestions on the styling of the figures especially the schematic drawing. We are grateful to O. Dittberner, B. Göckel, B. Krebs, U. Peters, M. Stör and A. Winter for skillful technical assistance. We also wish to thank M. Ruppel for assistance with the scanning microscopy.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Werner Gnatzy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Walter Volknandt
    • 2
  • Stefan Schulz
    • 3
  1. 1.Zoologisches InstitutJ.W. Goethe-UniversitätFrankfurt/M.Germany
  2. 2.Biozentrum der J.W. Goethe-UniversitätMarie-Curie-Str. 9Frankfurt/M.Germany
  3. 3.Institut für Organische ChemieTU BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany

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