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Venom and Dufour's glands of the emerald cockroach wasp Ampulex compressa (Insecta, Hymenoptera, Sphecidae): Structural and biochemical aspects

Werner Gnatzy, Jan Michels, Walter Volknandt, Stephan Goller, Stefan Schulz
Arthropod structure & development 2015 v.44 no.5 pp. 491-507
4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole, Ampulex compressa, Dufour's gland, alkadienes, alkanes, bladder, droplets, epithelium, glycoproteins, insects, lipid content, lipids, microvilli, muscle fibers, polypeptides, secretion, staining, striated muscle, venoms, volatile compounds
The digger wasp species Ampulex compressa produces its venom in two branched gland tubules. They terminate in a short common duct, which is bifurcated at its proximal end. One leg is linked with the venom reservoir, the other one extends to the ductus venatus. Each venom gland tubule possesses, over its entire length, a cuticle-lined central duct. Around this duct densely packed class 3 gland units each composed of a secretory cell and a canal cell are arranged. The position of their nuclei was demonstrated by DAPI staining. The brush border of the secretory cells surrounds the coiled end-apparatus. Venom is stored in a bladder like reservoir, which is surrounded by a thin reticulated layer of muscle fibres. The reservoir as a whole is lined with class 3 gland units. The tubiform Dufour's gland has a length of about 350 μm (∅ 125 μm) only and is surrounded by a network of pronounced striated muscle fibres. The glandular epithelium is mono-layered belonging to the class 1 type of insect epidermal glands. The gland cells are characterized by conspicuous lipid vesicles. Secretion of material via the gland cuticle into the gland lumen is apparent. Analysis of the polypeptide composition demonstrated that the free gland tubules and the venom reservoir contain numerous proteins ranging from 3.4 to 200 kDa. The polypeptide composition of the Dufour's gland is completely different and contains no lectin-binding glycoproteins, whereas a dominant component of the venom droplets is a glycoprotein of about 80 kDa. Comparison of the venom reservoir contents with the polypeptide pattern of venom droplets revealed that all of the major proteinaceous constituents are secreted. The secreted venom contains exclusively proteins present in the soluble contents of the venom gland. The most abundant compound class in the Dufour's gland consisted of n-alkanes followed by monomethyl-branched alkanes and alkadienes. Heptacosane was the most abundant n-alkane. Furthermore, a single volatile compound, 2-methylpentan-3-one, was identified in various concentrations in the lipid extract of the Dufour's gland.