International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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Worker defensive behavior in the Neotropical termite Neocapritermes braziliensis (Isoptera, Termitidae, Termitinae)

Author(s):
Ana Maria Costa-Leonardo, Ana Maria Costa-Leonardo , Iago Bueno da Silva , Laís Fernanda Serra Neves , Franciele Grego Esteves , José Roberto Aparecido dos Santos-Pinto , Mario Sergio Palma
Institution(s):
Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil; Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil; Centro de Estudos de Insetos Sociais, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil ; Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil ; Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil ; Centro de Estudos de Insetos Sociais, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil ; Centro de Estudos de Insetos Sociais, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil ; Centro de Estudos de Insetos Sociais, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil
The termite soldiers are equipped with morphological and physiological defensive apparatus, but despite their specialization, workers of some species also participate and are specialized in the colony defense. Neocapritermes braziliensis (Snyder, 1926) is a mound-building termite with occurrence in the Brazilian Amazonia, which workers display a suicidal behavior bursting the dorsal region of the abdomen and releasing a sticky secretion. This rupture is very conspicuous because often the salivary acini and the foregut are exposed outside the body. The present study, involving morphological and proteomic methodologies, investigated this process, which is consequence of the authotysis of the salivary glands. The salivary glands are pairs, composed of two reservoirs and a set of acini connected by ducts. Histological and ultrastructural routine techniques showed salivary acini composed of small and scarce parietal cells, besides large and numerous central secretory cells. The central cells showed different types of secretion: electron-lucent vesicles and a scattered secretion filling most of the cellular cytoplasm. These cells are rich in lamellar arrangements of rough endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria. The salivary reservoirs are large, full of secretion and reach about one third of the abdomen. Bioassays of confrontation using workers of N. braziliensis against workers and soldiers of Heterotermes tenuis and Procornitermes araujoi showed that the workers did not burst with the touch of enemy antennae and mandibles but only when they were bitten. The analyses of shotgun proteomics followed by mass spectrometry of the sticky secretion from burst workers showed 235 proteins, which were classified in functional groups with the aid of Gene Ontology. These groups included toxins and defensins, such as neurotoxins, housekeeping proteins, and proteins related to the detoxification and insect immunity.
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