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Revista Brasileira de Entomologia

versão impressa ISSN 0085-5626

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SILVA, Edypo Jacob; CAMARGO, Roberto da Silva; FORTI, Luiz Carlos  e  TRAVAGLINI, Raphael Vacchi. Protein content of leaf-cutting ant queens before the nuptial flight and during the post-claustral phase. Rev. Bras. entomol. [online]. 2014, vol.58, n.4, pp.333-336.  Epub 21-Nov-2014. ISSN 0085-5626.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0085-56262014005000003.

Protein content of leaf-cutting ant queens before the nuptial flight and during the post-claustral phase. This study evaluated the crude protein content of queens of Atta sexdens before the nuptial flight and after the claustral phase in laboratory and field colonies. The hypothesis was that protein is used for survival of the queen and for early colony growth during the claustral phase. Additionally, the nest morphology, live biomass and adult population of field colonies were evaluated. Crude protein was determined by digestion of the organic material with sulfuric acid at high temperatures. The mean crude protein content was 123.23 ± 11.20 mg for females before the nuptial flight and 70.44 ± 12.21 mg for laboratory-reared queens after the claustral phase. The post-claustral crude protein content of field-collected queen was 55.90 ± 9.18 mg. With respect to the loss of crude protein as a function of duration of the claustral phase, laboratory-reared queens lost 52.79 mg and field-collected queens lost 67.33 mg compared to females before the nuptial flight. A positive linear correlation was observed between the weight of field-collected queens (256.4 ± 36.3 mg) and colony biomass (13.02 ± 9.12 g), but there was no correlation between biomass and nest depth (13.11 ± 3.82 cm). As expected, the present results support the hypothesis that protein is used for survival of the queen and for early colony growth, as demonstrated by the reduction in crude protein content as a function of duration of the claustral phase. To our knowledge, this is the first study to provide data of the dynamics of protein reserves in leaf-cutting ant queens during the claustral phase.

Palavras-chave : Claustral phase; Insecta; leaf-cutting ants; nest; protein content.

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