Melatonin inhibits seed germination by crosstalk with abscisic acid, gibberellin, and auxin in Arabidopsis

Yan Lv, Jinjing Pan, Houping Wang, Russel J. Reiter, Xia Li, Zongmin Mou, Jiemei Zhang, Zhengping Yao, Dake Zhao, Diqiu Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Seed germination, an important developmental stage in the life cycle of seed plants, is regulated by complex signals. Melatonin is a signaling molecule associated with seed germination under stressful conditions, although the underlying regulatory mechanisms are largely unknown. In this study, we showed that a low concentration (10 µM or 100 µM) of melatonin had no effect on seed germination, but when the concentration of melatonin increased to 500 µM or 1000 µM, seed germination was significantly inhibited in Arabidopsis. RNA sequencing analysis showed that melatonin regulated seed germination correlated to phytohormones abscisic acid (ABA), gibberellin (GA), and auxin. Further investigation revealed that ABA and melatonin synergistically inhibited seed germination, while GA and auxin antagonized the inhibitory effect of seed germination by melatonin. Disruption of the melatonin biosynthesis enzyme gene serotonin N-acetyltransferase (SNAT) or N-acetylserotonin methyltransferase (ASMT) promoted seed germination, while overexpression of ASMT inhibited seed germination. Taken together, our study sheds new light on the function and mechanism of melatonin in modulating seed germination in Arabidopsis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12736
JournalJournal of pineal research
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2021


  • N-acetylserotonin methyltransferase
  • Serotonin N-acetyltransferase
  • abscisic acid
  • auxin
  • gibberellin
  • melatonin
  • seed germination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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