Melatonin in Plants – Diversity of Levels and Multiplicity of Functions

2016 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Melatonin in Plants – Diversity of Levels and Multiplicity of Functions​
Hardeland, R. ​ (2016) 
Frontiers in Plant Science7.​ DOI: 

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Hardeland, Rüdiger 
Melatonin has been detected in numerous plant species. A particularly surprising finding concerns the highly divergent levels of melatonin that vary between species, organs and environmental conditions, from a few pg/g to over 20 μg/g, reportedly up to 200 μg/g. Highest values have been determined in oily seeds and in plant organs exposed to high UV radiation. The divergency of melatonin concentrations is discussed under various functional aspects and focused on several open questions. This comprises differences in precursor availability, catabolism, the relative contribution of isoenzymes of the melatonin biosynthetic pathway, and differences in rate limitation by either serotonin N-acetyltransferase or N-acetylserotonin O-methyltransferase. Other differences are related to the remarkable pleiotropy of melatonin, which exhibits properties as a growth regulator and morphogenetic factor, actually debated in terms of auxin-like effects, and as a signaling molecule that modulates pathways of ethylene, abscisic, jasmonic and salicylic acids and is involved in stress tolerance, pathogen defense and delay of senescence. In the context of high light/UV intensities, elevated melatonin levels exceed those required for signaling via stress-related phytohormones and may comprise direct antioxidant and photoprotectant properties, perhaps with a contribution of its oxidatively formed metabolites, such as N1-acetyl-N2-formyl-5-methoxykynuramine and its secondary products. High melatonin levels in seeds may also serve antioxidative protection and have been shown to promote seed viability and germination capacity.
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Frontiers Media S.A.
Frontiers in Plant Science 



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