Intraspecific Variation of the Composition of Linear Alkanes in Social Wasp Mischocyttarus consimilis

Ana Cristina Ferreira, Erika Fernandes Neves, Thiago dos Santos Montagna, Angélica Mendonça, Claudia Andrea Lima Cardoso, William Fernando Antonialli Junior


An important attribute of the evolution and maintenance of sociality in insects is their ability to distinguish members of their own colonies by means of chemical signals during their interactions. Of this type of signals, the cuticular hydrocarbons, responsible among other functions, for intraspecific recognition stand out. Linear alkanes are indicated as the class of compounds that would be most involved in water retention in the body of insects, however, some studies have investigated their role as mediators of interactions. Thus it is possible that there is significant intraspecific variation of its composition, so the objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that linear alkanes vary significantly among populations, castes and sexes, as well as between newly emerged females of different ages of the Mischocyttarus consimilis Zikán 1949 wasp. The samples were analyzed by gas chromatography with flame ionization detector and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. The results show that there is a significant variation between the chemical cuticular profiles of samples from different populations, as well as between castes, sex and newly emergent workers of different ages. Therefore, it is possible to infer that this class of compounds may vary according to genetic differences between populations, but also by different environmental conditions. The differences between castes, sex and ages suggest that these compounds may also be involved in mediating interactions between nestmates.


Chemical signature; castes; cuticular hydrocarbons; gas chromatography; population variation

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