It has been suggested that melatonin acts as an important regulator in controlling root growth and development, but the underlying molecular mechanism driving this relationship remains undetermined. In this study, we demonstrated that melatonin acts as a potent molecule to govern root architecture in rice. Treatments with melatonin significantly inhibited embryonic root growth, and promoted lateral root formation and development. Genome-wide expression profiling by RNA-sequencing revealed auxin-related genes were significantly activated under melatonin treatment. Moreover, several transcription factors and candidate cis-regulatory elements involved in root growth and developments, as well as auxin-related processes, were over-represented in both co-up and -down differentially expressed genes, suggesting that melatonin-mediated root growth occurs in an auxin signal pathway-dependent manner. Further, gravitropic response analysis determined that melatonin affects auxin-regulated processes in rice root. These data show that melatonin shapes root architecture by directly or indirectly activating the auxin signaling pathway.
root growth and development, root architecture, melatonin, auxin, transcriptome, rice