, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 183–194 | Cite as

Thoracobombus from Mexico: a description of the male species-specific cephalic labial gland secretions

  • Nicolas BraseroEmail author
  • Rémy Vandame
  • Philippe Sagot
  • Baptiste Martinet
  • Irena Valterová
  • Pierre Rasmont
Original article


The male cephalic labial gland secretions of bumblebees are known to be species-specific semiochemicals. These secretions that are involved in bumblebee pre-mating recognition provide efficient diagnostic characters for species delimitation. The subgenus Thoracobombus is the largest group of bumblebees and is found in the Palearctic, Nearctic, and Neotropical regions. Here, the cephalic labial gland secretion (CLGS) composition of six Mexican Thoracobombus bumblebee species are analyzed: Bombus diligens, B. medius, B. mexicanus, B. pensylvanicus, B. trinominatus, and B. weisi. Our results suggest the presence of two new potential species into the formerly recognized B. weisi as well as one new potential species in the taxon presently identified as B. pensylvanicus. Moreover, the male of B. pensylvanicus, known to congregate at nest sites awaiting the emergence of virgin queens, is characterized by low concentrations of the C16 component. This observation raises the possibility that courtship behavior as well as environmental constraints could affect the role of the male bumblebees’ CLGS.


Thoracobombus Mexico cephalic labial glands courtship behavior species-specific 



The authors acknowledge Jesus López-Gómez and Esteban Pineda for the important sampling effort. They also thank Conabio JE016 and Sagarpa-Conacyt 291333 grants, both from Mexico, as they funded field and lab parts of this work. The authors are particularly grateful to Elizabeth Curtis for correcting the English.

Authors contributions

NB, RM, and PR conceived this research and designed experiments; NB, BM, and PR participate in the design and interpretation of the data; NB and BM performed experiments and analysis; NB, RM, PS, BM, IV, and PR wrote the paper and participated in the revisions of it. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding information

BM contributes as a PhD student granted by the Research Council of University of Mons and by the FRS-FNRS. Partial financial support (IV) was provided by the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (#61388963). The research has received funding from the Académie Royale des sciences, des lettres & des beaux-arts de Belgique (A. De Potter fund), fonds Léopold III pour l ‘Exploration et la Conservation de la Nature and from the Biology Department (University of Mons).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© INRA and Deutscher Imkerbund e.V. (DIB) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolas Brasero
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rémy Vandame
    • 2
  • Philippe Sagot
    • 2
  • Baptiste Martinet
    • 1
  • Irena Valterová
    • 3
    • 4
  • Pierre Rasmont
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Institute of Biosciences, Laboratory of ZoologyUniversity of MonsMonsBelgium
  2. 2.Departamento Agricultura Sociedad y AmbienteEl Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)San Cristóbal de Las CasasMexico
  3. 3.Institute of Organic Chemistry and BiochemistryAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPragueCzech Republic
  4. 4.Faculty of Tropical AgriSciencesCzech University of Life SciencesPragueCzech Republic

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