Melatonin attenuates postharvest physiological deterioration of cassava storage roots

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Melatonin reportedly increases abiotic and biotic stress tolerance in plants, but information on its in vivo effects during postharvest physiological deterioration (PPD) in cassava is limited. In this study, we investigated the effect of melatonin in regulating cassava PPD. Treatment with 500 mg/L melatonin significantly delayed cassava PPD and reduced the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) while increasing the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione reductase (GR), but not ascorbate peroxidase (APX). Transcript analysis further showed that expression of copper/zinc SOD (MeCu/ZnSOD), MeCAT1, glutathione peroxidase (MeGPX), peroxidase 3 (MePX3), and glutathione S-transferases (MeGST) was higher in cassava roots sliced treated with 500 mg/L melatonin than in those not exposed to exogenous melatonin. These data demonstrate that melatonin delays cassava PPD by directly or indirectly maintaining homoeostasis of cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). We also found that accumulation of endogenous melatonin and the transcript levels of melatonin biosynthesis genes changed dynamically during the PPD process. This finding suggested that endogenous melatonin acts as a signal modulator for maintaining cassava PPD progression and that manipulation of melatonin biosynthesis genes through genetic engineering might prevent cassava root deterioration.

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