Melatonin content in grape: myth or panacea?



Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) was detected by a modified HPLC method and ELISA tests in extracts of eight different Vitis vinifera cultivars, namely Nebbiolo, Croatina, Sangiovese, Merlot, Marzemino, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera. Its concentration varied greatly among the cultivars, being the highest in Nebbiolo (0.965 ng g−1) and Croatina (0. 870 ng g−1). Field treatments of grapevine with the plant defence activator benzothiadiazole, greatly improved the melatonin content in berry skin extracts, indicating a possible strategy to raise the content of this important pharmaconutrient in plants, while inducing resistance to pathogens. The finding of this compound in grape suggests that the well-established pharmaconutritional properties of this fruit are due not only to the presence of polyphenolic nutraceuticals, such as resveratrol, anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, but also to the powerful antioxidant activity of melatonin. Copyright © 2006 Society of Chemical Industry