Variation with caste of the mandibular gland secretion in the leaf-cutting ant
What is it about?
InAtta sexdens rubropilosa, a strongly polyethic and polymorphic species of myrmicine ant, the contents of the mandibular gland vary with caste. Small workers of head width 0.5–1.8 mm, those generally engaged in duties inside the nest, contain chiefly 4-methyl-3-heptanone. Larger workers, those chiefly engaged in foraging, and the soldier caste contain a mixture dominated by neral and geranial, with very little of the ketone of the smaller workers. The soldiers have massive glands containing milligram amounts of neral and geranial. Virgin and mated females contain essentially only 4-methyl-3-heptanone, the amount increasing after mating, while virgin males have 4-methyl-3-heptanone and 4-methyl-3-heptanol in approximately equal proportions. Mated males have less secretion and lose the 4-methyl-3-heptanol.
The following have contributed to this page: Professor José Mauricio Simões Bento