Glandular Secretions of Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): A Review on Extraction, Chemical Characterization and Antibiotic Potential


  • Carin Guarda Programa de Pós Graduação em Ciências da Saúde (PPGCS), Universidade Comunitária da Região de Chapecó-Unochapeco, Santa Catarina, Brasil
  • Junir Antonio Lutinski Programa de Pós Graduação em Ciências da Saúde (PPGCS), Universidade Comunitária da Região de Chapecó-Unochapeco, Santa Catarina, Brasil



Bioprospecting, metapleural gland, social insects, resistance to antibiotics, antimicrobial secretions.


Ants live under ideal microclimatic conditions for the development of microorganisms. As mechanisms to ensure the health of the colony and as a defense strategy, these insects developed exocrine glands that work in the production of antibiotics (chemical defense) and in the immune defense of the colony. This study aimed to describe the state-of-the-art on extraction methods, chemical characterization and the antibiotic potential of glandular secretions of ants. This is a review of the scientific literature between 1989 and 2017. A total of 52 articles were selected. These addressed the behavior, chemical characterization, the antimicrobial effect and evaluated methods of extraction. The most investigated genera are Atta, Acromyrmexand Crematogaster. The glands most reported in the articles involving extraction of secretions were Dufour, mandibular and metapleural. The most reported methods of extraction were gland maceration and extraction with (organic) solvents and direct extraction of the gland. Most studies evaluated secretions with respect to ant behavior. There is a paucityin the literature about the chemical characterization of most glandular secretions of ants, as well as for most taxa. The same deficiency is observed with regard to prospecting the antibiotic and antifungal potential of these secretions. for most taxa. The same deficiency is observed with regard to prospecting the antibiotic and antifungal potential of these secretions.


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How to Cite

Guarda, C., & Lutinski, J. A. (2020). Glandular Secretions of Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): A Review on Extraction, Chemical Characterization and Antibiotic Potential. Sociobiology, 67(1), 13–25.