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Morphometry of the metapleural gland of workers engaged in different behavioral tasks in the ant Atta sexdens rubropilosa

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The exocrine metapleural gland is unique for ants and is characterized by antibiotic production. This work aimed at comparing (1) the volume of the metapleural gland, (2) the nucleus-cytoplasm relation of the secretory cells and (3) the surface area of the bulla which corresponds to the external part of the gland in workers of Atta sexdens rubropilosa Forel, 1908. The measurements were conducted in medium-sized workers of the following groups: waste processors (workers that manipulated waste), waste removers (workers that transported the waste fragment), foragers and workers inside the fungus garden. We show that the volume of the metapleural gland reservoir is larger in groups that are more exposed to infections.

Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Biologia Animal, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, 36570-000, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brasil; 2: Departamento de Biologia Geral, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, 36570-000, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brasil; 3: Departamento de Informática, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, 36570-000, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brasil


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