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Article|22 Apr 2022|OPEN
Introducing melatonin to the horticultural industry: physiological roles, potential applications, and challenges
Tengteng Gao1 , Xiaomin Liu1 , Kexin Tan1 , Danni Zhang1 , Bolin Zhu1 , Fengwang Ma1 , and Chao Li,1 ,
1State Key Laboratory of Crop Stress Biology for Arid Areas/Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Apple, College of Horticulture, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, Shaanxi, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:,

Horticulture Research 9,
Article number: uhac094 (2022)
Views: 95

Received: 23 Sep 2021
Accepted: 05 Apr 2022
Published online: 22 Apr 2022


Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) is an emerging biomolecule that influences horticultural crop growth, flowering, fruit ripening, postharvest preservation, and stress protection. It functions as a plant growth regulator, preservative and antimicrobial agent to promote seed germination, regulate root system architecture, influence flowering and pollen germination, promote fruit production, ensure postharvest preservation, and increase resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses. Here, we highlight the potential applications of melatonin in multiple aspects of horticulture, including molecular breeding, vegetative reproduction, production of virus-free plants, food safety, and horticultural crop processing. We also discuss its effects on parthenocarpy, autophagy, and arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. Together, these many features contribute to the promise of melatonin for improving horticultural crop production and food safety. Effective translation of melatonin to the horticultural industry requires an understanding of the challenges associated with its uses, including the development of economically viable sources.