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Article|01 Jun 2020|OPEN
Transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses reveal that melatonin promotes melon root development under copper stress by inhibiting jasmonic acid biosynthesis
Zhicheng Hu1, Qiushi Fu1, Jing Zheng1, Aiai Zhang1 & Huaisong Wang1,
1Institute of Vegetables and Flowers, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, 100081 Beijing, China

Horticulture Research 7,
Article number: 20079 (2020)
doi: 10.1038/hortres.2020.79
Views: 325

Received: 12 Nov 2019
Revised: 03 Jan 2020
Accepted: 20 Mar 2020
Published online: 01 Jun 2020


Melatonin has been shown to alleviate the effects of abiotic stress and to regulate plant development. Copper, a common heavy metal and soil pollutant, can suppress plant growth and development. In this work, we explored the protective effects of exogenous melatonin on lateral root formation in response to copper stress using melon seeds subjected to three germination treatments: CK1 (control), CK2 (300 μmol/L CuSO4), and MT3 (300 μmol/L melatonin + 300 μmol/L CuSO4). Melatonin pretreatment increased the antioxidant enzyme activities and root vigor, and decreased the proline and malondialdehyde (MDA) contents in the roots of copper-stressed melon seedlings. We then used transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses to explore the mechanisms by which exogenous melatonin protects against copper stress. There were 70 significant differentially expressed genes (DEGs) (28 upregulated, 42 downregulated) and 318 significantly differentially expressed metabolites (DEMs) (168 upregulated, 150 downregulated) between the MT3 and CK2 treatments. Melatonin pretreatment altered the expression of genes related to redox and cell wall formation processes. In addition, we found that members of the AP2/ERF, BBR/BPC, GRAS, and HD-ZIP transcription factor families may have vital roles in lateral root development. Melatonin also increased the level of Glutathione (GSH), which chelates excess Cu2+. The combined transcriptomic and metabolomic analysis revealed DEGs and DEMs involved in jasmonic acid (JA) biosynthesis, including four lipoxygenase-related genes and two metabolites (linoleic acid and lecithin) related to melatonin’s alleviation effect on copper toxicity. This research elucidated the molecular mechanisms of melatonin’s protective effects in copper-stressed melon.