Numerous classes of chemicals have been considered as regulators of various aspects of plant growth and development. In evaluating these putative regulatory molecules, plant biologists have encountered a number of challenges, including: the problem of quantifying substances present at trace levels in extremely complex mixtures; difficulty in obtaining and interpreting phenotypic responses to exogenous applications; and, until recently, the inability to selectively alter endogenous levels of these substances. Melatonin (N‐acetyl 5‐methoxytryptamine), a methoxylated indoleamine, is a potential regulatory molecule found in plants. Although no specific phenotype is currently associated with melatonin or its analogs in higher plants, it has important and unique biological activity in many other taxa, from algae to primates. In these organisms, melatonin functions as a night signal, coordinating responses to diurnal and photoperiodic environmental cues. We assess the process by which melatonin has been evaluated in plants so far and find that many of the methods for melatonin analysis, which have been adopted from animal studies, are inappropriate for use with plant materials. Thus, despite some interesting preliminary reports, research supporting the case for melatonin as a plant regulator is still in its infancy.
Journal of Pineal Research – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 2001
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