U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology 57:1–14 (2004)

DOI: 10.1002/arch.20008


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Alfalfa leafcutting bees, Megachile rotundata (F.), overwinter as prepupae. The internal lipids were extracted from prepupae that had been wintered at 4°C for 7 months. Megachile rotundata prepupae possessed copious quantities of internal lipids (20% of the fresh weight) that were extracted with CHCl3/methanol (2:1). Transmission electron microscopy revealed that lipids were stored within very large intracellular vacuoles. Separation by silica chromatography revealed that 88% of the internal lipids were triacylglycerols. Ester derivatives of fatty acids from triacylglycerol components were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and 15 fatty acid constituents were identified. The majority (76%) of the triacylglycerol fatty acids were unsaturated fatty acids. The major triacylglycerol fatty acid constituent (30%) was the C16 monounsaturated fatty acid, palmitoleic acid (16:1, hexadec-9-enoic acid), with substantial amounts of linolenic acid (18:3, octadec-9,12,15- trienoic acid, 15%), palmitic acid (16:0, hexadecanoic acid, 14%) and oleic acid (18:1, octadec-9-enoic acid, 13%). Palmitoleic acid as the major fatty acid of an insect is an unusual occurrence as well as the presence of the 16-carbon polyunsaturated fatty acids, 16:2 and 16:3. The major intact triacylglycerol components were separated and identified by high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. A complex mixture of approximately 40 triacylglycerol components were identified and major components included palmitoyl palmitoleoyl oleoyl glycerol, palmitoyl palmitoleoyl palmitoleoyl glycerol, myristoyl palmitoleoyl palmitoleoyl glycerol, myristoleoyl palmitoyl palmitoleoyl glycerol, and palmitoyl palmitoleoyl linolenoyl glycerol. The function of these internal lipids and their relevance to winter survival and post-wintering development of M. rotundata is discussed.