Sterols are essential molecules in the membrane lipid composition and precursors of important sterol hormones that regulate many developmental processes. Insects are unable to synthesize sterols de novo and, thus, all phytophagous insects depend on an exogenous source of sterols for growth, development, and reproduction. The sterol requirements of social bees are not fully known due to the fact that there is no well-defined diet available throughout the year with regard to floral resources. Our study aimed to characterize the sterols present in pollen stored in Melipona marginata and Melipona scutellaris colonies, as well as evaluating their presence in the mandibular, hypopharyngeal, and cephalic salivary gland secretions. We analyzed the chemical composition of pollen stored in the colonies and the composition of the cephalic glands of workers in three adult functional phases (newly emerged, nurses, and foragers) by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. The results showed that the pollen analyzed contained campesterol, stigmasterol, sitosterol, isofucosterol, lanosterol, and small amounts of cholesterol. The glands showed the same compounds found in the pollen analyzed, except lanosterol that was not found in M. scutellaris glands. Surprisingly, cholesterol was found in some glands with relative ratios greater than those found in pollen. © 2012 Maria Juliana Ferreira-Caliman et al.
Ferreira-Caliman, M. J., Silva, C. I. D., Mateus, S., Zucchi, R., & Nascimento, F. S. D. (2012). Neutral sterols of cephalic glands of stingless bees and their correlation with sterols from pollen. Psyche (London). https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/982802