Melatonin: A potential regulator of plant growth and development?


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Abstract

SummaryRecent research has reported the presence of melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine), a mammalian indoleamine neurohormone, in higher plants, indicating that melatonin may be an important metabolic regulator that has been highly conserved across biological kingdoms. Melatonin is synthesized from tryptophan in the mammalian pineal gland and a similar biosynthetic pathway was recently described in St. John's wort shoot tissues, wherein radiolabel from tryptophan was recovered in serotonin and melatonin as well as indoleacetic acid. There is growing information describing melatonin control of physiological processes in mammals, yeast, and bacteria, including diurnal responses, detoxification of free radicals, and environmental adaptations. However, at the current time, there is no known specific role for melatonin in plant physiology. Alterations in melatonin concentrations in plant tissues have been shown to affect root development, mitosis, and mitotic spindle formation. The recent advancements in melatonin research in plants and some directions for important areas of future research are reviewed in this article.

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