Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 302, Issue 2, pp 271–284 | Cite as

Venom gland of the digger wasp Liris niger: morphology, ultrastructure, age-related changes and biochemical aspects

  • Werner Gnatzy
  • Walter Volknandt
Regular Article


Females of the parasitoid digger wasp species Liris niger hunt crickets as food for their future brood. The wasps paralyse the prey by injecting their venom directly into the CNS. The venom is produced in a gland consisting of two ramified glandular tubules terminating in a common reservoir. The reservoir contents enter the sting bulb via a ductus venatus. Secretory units of dermal gland type III line the two free gland tubules, the afferent ducts to the reservoir and the cap region within the reservoir. Secretion products of tubules reach the reservoir through the cuticle-lined central funnel. Secretory cells in the distal and middle parts of the tubules contain extensive rough endoplasmic reticulum and numerous electron-dense vesicles, whereas secretory cells of the afferent ducts and the cap region of the reservoir lack electron-dense vesicles and the endoplasmic reticulum is poorly developed. The secretory apparatus undergoes age-related changes. The secretory units in the venom gland tubules and inside the reservoir complete differentiation 1 day after imaginal ecdysis. After 30 days, massive autolytic processes occur in the secretory cells and in the epithelial cells of the reservoir. Analysis of the polypeptide composition demonstrates that the venom reservoir contains numerous proteins ranging from 3.4 to 200 kDa. A dominant component is a glycoprotein of about 90 kDa. In contrast the polypeptide composition of Dufour's gland is completely different and contains no glycoproteins. Comparison of the venom reservoir contents with the polypeptide pattern of venom droplets reveals that all of the major proteinaceous constituents become secreted. Thus the secreted venom contains exclusively proteins present in the soluble contents of the venom gland.

Venom gland Morphology Ultrastructure Age-related changes Polypeptide composition Liris niger (Sphecidae, Hymenoptera, Insecta) 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Werner Gnatzy
    • 1
  • Walter Volknandt
    • 2
  1. 1.Zoologisches Institut der J.W. Goethe-Universität, Siesmayerstr. 70, 60323 Frankfurt/M., Germany
  2. 2.Biozentrum der J.W. Goethe-Universität, Marie-Curie-Str. 9, 60439 Frankfurt/M., Germany

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