Structural and functional changes of the Dufour gland in gynes of the amazon ant Polyergus rufescens (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)
Billen, Johan × Grasso, Donato A. Mori, Alessandra Le Moli, Francesco #
Zoomorphology vol:121 issue:1 pages:55-61
Colony foundation by the slave-making amazon ant Polyergus rufescens requires penetration of the young gyne soon after mating into a colony of the slave species. During this process, she uses decyl butyrate from her large Dufour gland as an effective appeasement allomone. The structural appearance and development of this gland shows a clear age-dependent evolution that is in line with its behavioural function. At the moment of eclosion, young females have a gland with an empty lumen but thick lining epithelium, of which the active secretory cells are characterised by a well-developed Golgi apparatus, abundant mitochondria and smooth endoplasmic reticulum. The basal plasmalemma shows deep in vaginations that facilitate the uptake of precursors from the haemolymph, while intercellular contacts display conspicuous interdigitations in the apical cell part. During the first days of adult life, secretion starts to accumulate in the lumen. At the age of 3 weeks, the gland displays a large lumen filled with secretion and a thin epithelium that no longer displays secretory activity. By this time, the gynes are ready for penetration into a slave colony, being loaded with large quantities of the appeasement allomone that are necessary at this initial stage of the usurpation process.