Phytomelatonin: A universal abiotic stress regulator

Yanping Wang, Russel J. Reiter, Zhulong Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


Melatonin, a derivative of tryptophan, was first detected in plant species in 1995 and it has been shown to be a diverse regulator during plant growth and development, and in stress responses. Recently, great progress has been made towards determining the detailed functions of melatonin in plant responses to abiotic stress. Melatonin priming improves plant tolerance to cold, heat, salt, and drought stresses through regulation of genes involved in the DREB/CBF, HSF, SOS, and ABA pathways, respectively. As a scavenger of free radicals, melatonin also directly detoxifies reactive oxygen species, thus alleviating membrane oxidation. Abiotic stress-inhibited photosynthesis is partially recovered and metabolites accumulate in the presence of melatonin, leading to improved plant growth, delayed leaf senescence, and increased stress tolerance. In this review, we summarize the interactions of melatonin with phytohormones to regulate downstream gene expression, protein stabilization, and epigenetic modification in plants. Finally, we consider the need for, and approaches to, the identification of melatonin receptors and components during signaling transduction pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)963-974
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 23 2018


  • Abscisic acid
  • abiotic stress
  • auxin
  • leaf senescence
  • melatonin
  • osmolytes
  • phytohormone
  • reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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