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Cuticular signature in the development of Polistes versicolor

Author(s): J.H. dos S. Brito, T.S. Montagna, F.S. Maia, W.F. Antonialli-Junior and C.A.L. Cardoso

Wasps belong to societies that are highly complex and diverse, especially considering social organization and parental care. They use chemicals in their daily communication, and act incisively in recognition of mates and non-nest mates, and can even identify individuals of different castes. In this study, cuticle composition was examined during the development of Polistes versicolor from the egg stage to adulthood, with the aim to assess changes in the chemical signature of the species, using gas chromatography. Linear alkanes and branched alkanes were identified that were important to distinguish the various developmental stages of P. versicolor. The variation in the linear alkanes and branched alkanes was quantitative, since most of them are present in all stages, with the exception of some linear alkanes that uniquely characterized the egg stage. At the egg stage, differences were predominant for linear alkanes C8, C24, C27, and C29. For the larval instars, there was a predominance of linear alkanes C8, C22 and C24 to C30. In the pre-pupae, pupae and adult stages, C8, C22, C24, and C26 to C30 showed a higher abundance during later developmental stages. The addition to branched alkanes increased their abundance from the egg (13.52%) to adult (22.96%) stages.