Exogenous Melatonin Improves Cold Tolerance of Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) through Modulation of DREB/CBF-COR Pathway and Antioxidant Defense System

The strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) is an important fruit crop cultivated worldwide for its unique taste and nutritional properties. One of the major risks associated with strawberry production is cold damage. Recently, melatonin has emerged as a multifunctional signaling molecule that influences plant growth and development and reduces adverse consequences of cold stress. The present study was conducted to investigate the defensive role of melatonin and its potential interrelation with abscisic acid (ABA) in strawberry plants under cold stress. The results demonstrate that melatonin application conferred improved cold tolerance on strawberry seedlings by reducing malondialdehyde and hydrogen peroxide contents under cold stress. Conversely, pretreatment of strawberry plants with 100 μM melatonin increased soluble sugar contents and different antioxidant enzyme activities (ascorbate peroxidase, catalase, and peroxidase) and non-enzymatic antioxidant (ascorbate and glutathione) activities under cold stress. Furthermore, exogenous melatonin treatment stimulated the expression of the DREB/CBF—COR pathways’ downstream genes. Interestingly, ABA treatment did not change the expression of the DREB/CBF—COR pathway. These findings imply that the DREB/CBF-COR pathway confers cold tolerance on strawberry seedlings through exogenous melatonin application. Taken together, our results reveal that melatonin (100 μM) pretreatment protects strawberry plants from the damages induced by cold stress through enhanced antioxidant defense potential and modulating the DREB/CBF—COR pathway. View Full-Text


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