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Lipid metabolism of postpharyngeal glands in Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Forel, 1908) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Grant number: 12/12541-3
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2012
Effective date (End): August 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Morphology - Cytology and Cell Biology
Principal researcher:Odair Correa Bueno
Grantee:Alexsandro Santana Vieira
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil


The postpharyngeal glands are unique to ants and are only observed in adults. They are located in the frontal region of the head, near the brain. In A. sexdens rubropilosa, the glands occur as a paired structure consisted of branched lobes ending in a sac-like portion that becomes a narrow channel lined by a thin chitinous layer. The role of the postpharyngeal gland is controversial. Some authors have suggested that they are responsible for feeding larvae, while others proposed that they work as a diverticulum of the digestive tract, and/or may play a role of cephalic or gastric cecum, or mix exogenous and endogenous hydrocarbons. In addition, the postpharyngeal gland secretion may be important in the organization of the colony and caste determination. The gland epithelium stores intracelullar lipid droplets from food, but the metabolism of these lipids is still unknown, when present in the postpharyngeal gland. Another important factor is a possible relationship between lipophorins and the postpharyngeal gland. The former are responsible for the transport of lipids in insects and could carry short chain fatty acids or lipid compounds from the postpharyngeal gland to the hemolymph. The present study was aimed at investigating the metabolism of lipids of the postpharyngeal glands of medium workers of the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens rubropilosa fed or not a lipid-rich diet, using confocal laser scanning microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, western blotting, and thin layer chromatography (AU)

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Scientific publications (4)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
VIEIRA, ALEXSANDRO S.; RAMALHO, MANUELA O.; MARTINS, CINTIA; MARTINS, VANDERLEI G.; BUENO, ODAIR C. Microbial Communities in Different Tissues of Atta sexdens rubropilosa Leaf-cutting Ants. Current Microbiology, v. 74, n. 10, p. 1216-1225, OCT 2017. Web of Science Citations: 7.
VIEIRA, A. S.; BUENO, O. C. Lipid Mobilization and Acyl-Coenzyme A Dehydrogenase Abundance in the Postpharyngeal Gland of a Leaf-Cutting Ant. Sociobiology, v. 63, n. 4, p. 1005-1014, DEC 2016. Web of Science Citations: 1.
DECIO, PAMELA; VIEIRA, ALEXSANDRO SANTANA; DIAS, NATHALIA BAPTISTA; PALMA, MARIO SERGIO; BUENO, ODAIR CORREA. The Postpharyngeal Gland: Specialized Organ for Lipid Nutrition in Leaf-Cutting Ants. PLoS One, v. 11, n. 5 MAY 5 2016. Web of Science Citations: 4.
VIEIRA, ALEXSANDRO SANTANA; BUENO, ODAIR CORREA. Mitochondrial and peroxisomal population in post-pharyngeal glands of leaf-cutting ants after lipid supplementation. Micron, v. 68, p. 8-16, JAN 2015. Web of Science Citations: 3.

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