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Exogenous melatonin improves cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) pollen fertility under drought by regulating carbohydrate metabolism in male tissues

Hu, Wei, Cao, Yuting, Loka, Dimitra A., Harris-Shultz, Karen R., Reiter, Russel J., Ali, Saif, Liu, Yu, Zhou, Zhiguo
Plant physiology and biochemistry 2020 v.151 pp. 579-588
Gossypium hirsutum, adenosine triphosphate, carbohydrate metabolism, carbon, cotton, cultivars, drought, drought tolerance, enzyme activity, germination, glucose-1-phosphate adenylyltransferase, hexoses, hydrolysis, male fertility, males, melatonin, pollen, pollen viability, starch, sucrose, sucrose synthase, water stress
Although exogenous melatonin can enhance the drought tolerance of plants, reports on the role of melatonin in drought tolerance in male reproductive organs are limited. To explore this, a pot experiment was conducted with cotton cultivar Yuzaomian 9110 to study the effects of exogenous melatonin (100, 200, and 1000 μM) on male fertility and related carbohydrate metabolism in anther under drought. Results showed that drought inhibited the translocation of carbon assimilates to anthers, however, melatonin application (100 and 200 μM) significantly improved the translocation of carbon assimilates to drought-stressed anthers. Drought reduced the deposition of starch, the hydrolysis of sucrose into hexoses, the generation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in anthers, restricting pollen viability and germination. Nevertheless, the appropriate melatonin concentrations (100 and 200 μM) increased the starch accumulation by enhancing ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase and soluble starch synthases activities and accelerated the hydrolysis of sucrose by increasing sucrose synthase, acid and alkaline invertases activities in drought-stressed anthers. Appropriate melatonin concentrations (100 and 200 μM) also could help to generate more ATP for reproductive activities of drought-stressed anthers, finally increasing the pollen viability and germination of drought-stressed plants. These findings suggest that drought inhibited male fertility of cotton, but a precise melatonin application could regulate the carbohydrate balance of drought-stressed anthers to improve male fertility. This is the first report demonstrating the important role of exogenous melatonin in improving male fertility under drought conditions by regulating the carbohydrate metabolism in the male part of cotton.