Translucent cuticle and setiferous patches in Megaspilidae – our latest open access publication

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Trietsch C, Mikó I, Ulmer JM, Deans AR (2017) Translucent cuticle and setiferous patches in Megaspilidae (Hymenoptera, Ceraphronoidea). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 60: 135-156. DOI: 10.3897/jhr.60.13692

Abstract.—All Ceraphronoidea have metasomal patches of translucent cuticle and setae that have never been investigated before, despite their potential behavioral and phylogenetic relevance. To understand the internal and external morphology of these structures, specimens were examined using a broad array of histology-based methods, including transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and serial block-face scanning electron microscopy (SBFSEM). For the first time, the setiferous patches are shown to be associated with exocrine glands in Ceraphronoidea. The proposed glandular function is the secretion of pheromones, with the setae above the pore openings serving as a surface for evaporation. The translucent cuticle is morphologically distinct from the setiferous patches; structures resembling lamellar bodies were found underneath the translucent cuticle, and may be associated with photoreceptors or endocrine glands. The locations of translucent cuticle on the metasoma are unique to different families and genera within Ceraphronoidea, and could be useful for inferring phylogenetic relationships. The character distribution suggests that the genera Trassedia and Masner are more closely related to Ceraphronidae than Megaspilidae. We found similar structures containing translucent cuticle in Orussidae and Ichneumonoidea, indicating that these structures are potentially a rich character system for future phylogenetic analysis in Hymenoptera.

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