How Two Fenugreek Varieties Withstand Drought With Melatonin

Jenn Hoskins
3rd March, 2024

How Two Fenugreek Varieties Withstand Drought With Melatonin

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In a study at Tarbiat Modares University, fenugreek plants increased antioxidants and water-retaining compounds under drought
  • Melatonin treatment delayed flowering and improved drought resistance in one fenugreek variety, and recovery in another
  • Drought stress boosted a gene in fenugreek linked to a compound beneficial for health, with melatonin further enhancing this effect
In the quest to secure food amidst the challenges of climate change, scientists at Tarbiat Modares University have made a significant breakthrough in understanding how fenugreek, a leguminous plant, copes with the harsh conditions of drought[1]. Drought is known to hamper plant growth, disrupt the process of photosynthesis, and hasten the aging of plants, all of which contribute to a decrease in crop yields. This poses a direct threat to agricultural productivity and food availability. The study conducted by the Tarbiat Modares University aimed to unravel the complex responses of fenugreek to drought by examining two different varieties, known as landraces, and their biochemical reactions, growth patterns, and gene expression related to diosgenin, a valuable compound used in pharmaceuticals. Diosgenin is a type of steroidal saponin, a compound with various health benefits, including cholesterol regulation and anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers discovered that drought stress triggered an increase in antioxidant enzymes and compounds that help the plant retain water, known as osmoregulators. These substances work together to protect the plant from the damaging effects of drought by neutralizing harmful molecules and preserving cell integrity. Interestingly, the severity of drought stress prompted early flowering in the Shushtar landrace but did not significantly affect the Varamin variety. Prior research has indicated that plant hormones such as melatonin can play a role in enhancing a plant’s ability to withstand drought[2][3]. This study found that pretreating fenugreek with melatonin not only delayed flowering in the Shushtar variety, making it more resistant to drought, but also improved the Varamin variety's ability to recover after drought conditions were alleviated. Furthermore, the study identified that drought stress increased the expression of the CAS gene, which is involved in the biosynthesis of diosgenin, particularly in the Shushtar variety. Melatonin treatment helped to offset the reduction in biomass caused by drought and led to higher levels of steroidal saponins in the plants. The findings of this study are in alignment with previous research that has shown the positive effects of growth regulators like 24-epibrassinolide in enhancing plant tolerance to high temperatures and altering the content of valuable compounds such as diosgenin in fenugreek[4]. Additionally, the use of salt-tolerant bacteria to improve plant growth and metabolite content under saline conditions[5] suggests that there are multiple avenues to enhance plant resilience to various stressors. The results from Tarbiat Modares University underscore the importance of considering the specific characteristics of different plant varieties when developing strategies to mitigate the effects of environmental stress. The study demonstrates that melatonin can be a valuable tool in improving drought resistance and recovery in fenugreek. However, factors such as the plant's genetic makeup, the concentration of melatonin used, and the age of the plant at the time of treatment are crucial for success. This research not only expands our understanding of how fenugreek responds to drought but also provides practical applications for enhancing the growth and medicinal value of this and potentially other crops under stress conditions. By integrating the use of melatonin and understanding the genetic responses to environmental stress, agricultural practices can be adapted to ensure the continued production of valuable medicinal plants even in the face of increasing drought conditions.

BiochemPlant ScienceAgriculture


Main Study

1) Differential responses of two fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) landraces pretreated with melatonin to prolonged drought stress and subsequent recovery.

Published 2nd March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Melatonin alleviates drought impact on growth and essential oil yield of lemon verbena by enhancing antioxidant responses, mineral balance, and abscisic acid content.

3) Mechanistic insights on melatonin-mediated drought stress mitigation in plants.

4) Exogenous 24-epibrassinolide ameliorates tolerance to high-temperature by adjusting the biosynthesis of pigments, enzymatic, non-enzymatic antioxidants, and diosgenin content in fenugreek.

5) Salt-tolerant PGPR strain Priestia endophytica SK1 promotes fenugreek growth under salt stress by inducing nitrogen assimilation and secondary metabolites.

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