The Effect of Exogenous Melatonin on the Germination and Growth of Bamboo

By: Maryan N.
Year: 2023
School: Warner Middle
Grade: 8
Science Teacher: Renee Balboa

In recent years, the giant panda population has faced a significant threat due to the disappearance of bamboo forests, their primary source of food. As these forests vanish, the giant panda’s habitat diminishes, leading to a decline in their population. In an effort to address this critical issue, 8th grader Maryan embarked on a botany science project to explore the potential of using melatonin to enhance bamboo growth.

Maryan proposed the hypothesis that melatonin, a hormone known for its role in regulating sleep patterns in animals, could potentially accelerate the germination and growth rate of bamboo plants. They based their hypothesis on existing studies that demonstrated how exogenous melatonin can enhance the growth of plants that struggle to germinate effectively.

To test their hypothesis, Maryan acquired two pots of Golden Bamboo. The plants were separated into individual pots, and each group received a different concentration of melatonin: 0mg, 5mg, or 10mg. In total, they conducted five trials, with three pots per trial. Two pots served as the experimental group, while one pot acted as the control group. The plants were watered with approximately 250mL of water.

Upon analyzing the data, Maryan observed distinct patterns in the plant growth and shoot germination. The pots treated with 10mg of melatonin exhibited the highest growth, with an average height difference between initial and final measurements of 9.4cm. The 5mg pots ranked second with a growth increase of 6.3cm, while the control group, with no melatonin, had the lowest growth of 6.2cm.

Considering these results, it became evident that the addition of melatonin indeed accelerated the germination and growth of the bamboo plants. The team attributed this effect to melatonin’s binding to CAND2/PMTR1 phytomelatonin receptors, which enhances the growth rate of bamboo plants.

To further analyze their findings, Maryan calculated the average differences between the initial and final heights. The control group showed an average growth of 6.2cm, the 5mg group displayed an average growth of 6.3cm, while the 10mg group exhibited the most significant increase, with an average growth of 9.4cm. These average measurements reinforce the notion that a higher concentration of melatonin promotes greater growth in bamboo plants.

During the experiment, a few variables may have influenced the results. These included the sugar content in the liquid melatonin, a dying plant in Trial 5 that ceased growth until it was revived after a week, and a detached leaf in Trial 2 that led to a decrease in plant height. Additionally, Trial 4 for the 5mg concentration did not show any growth, potentially due to environmental factors.

Maryan’s findings provide a scientific explanation for the observed results. Melatonin’s binding to CAND2/PMTR1 phytomelatonin receptors in bamboo plants likely plays a vital role in enhancing growth. However, further research is necessary to understand the precise molecular pathway involved in this process.

Furthermore, Maryan discovered that the addition of melatonin led to the germination of shoots, which aligns with previous studies on the subject. This promising outcome not only confirms their hypothesis but also holds potential for future studies on the effects of melatonin on other plant species. Moreover, these findings may contribute to the restoration and conservation of endangered bamboo forests, vital ecosystems for various endangered animal species, including the giant panda.