The venom system of Nasonia vitripennis is well-developed and composed of an unbranched acid gland and associated reservoir. Fine-structural, histochemical and electrophoretic studies indicate that the venom is produced by two protein-secreting epithelia. The bulk of the venom is synthesised in the columnar cells of the acid gland and discharged via “vesicular organelles” and the efferent ductular system into the lumen of the reservoir. The acid gland also contains squamous chitogenous cells, situated either around the central lumen or interposed between the bases of the columnar cells. Once within the reservoir, the venom is probably activated by enzymatic secretions from the reservoir secretory cells. Each of these cells has a “vesicular organelle” but, in contrast to the columnar cells of the acid gland, the cytoplasm contains a preponderance of free ribosomes, and protein segregation apparently occurs outside the Golgi complexes.
The venom is expelled through the efferent discharge duct by muscular contractions, which open the duct lumen and bring it into contact with the funnel of the ovipositor. Excessive distortion of the duct is prevented by a massive ventral ligament.