Inhospitable conditions that hinder plant growth and development encompass a range of abiotic stresses, such as drought, extreme temperatures (both low and high), salinity, exposure to heavy metals, and irradiation. The cumulative impact of these stresses leads to a considerable reduction in agricultural productivity worldwide. The generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is a shared mechanism of toxicity induced by all these abiotic stimuli in plants, resulting in oxidative damage and membrane instability. Extensive research has shed light on the dual role of melatonin in plants, where it serves as both a growth regulator, fostering growth and development, and a potent protector against abiotic stresses. The inherent potential of melatonin to function as a natural antioxidant positions it as a promising biostimulant for agricultural use, bolstering plants’ abilities to withstand a wide array of environmental challenges. Beyond its antioxidant properties, melatonin has demonstrated its capacity to regulate the expression of genes associated with the photosynthetic process. This additional characteristic enhances its appeal as a versatile chemical agent that can be exogenously applied to plants, particularly in adverse conditions, to improve their resilience and optimize photosynthetic efficiency in every phase of the plant life cycle. An examination of the molecular mechanisms underlying the stress-protective effects of exogenous melatonin on the photosynthetic machinery of plants under various abiotic stresses is presented in this paper. In addition, future prospects are discussed for developing stress-tolerant crops for sustainable agriculture in challenging environments.
- abiotic stress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science