BackgroundBanana anthracnose, caused by Colletotrichum musae, is one of the most severe postharvest diseases in banana. Melatonin is widely known for its role in enhancing plant stress tolerance. However, little is known about the control of melatonin on anthracnose in postharvest banana fruit.ResultsIn this study, exogenous melatonin treatment could significantly reduce the incidence of anthracnose in ripe yellow banana fruit and delay fruit senescence. However, melatonin treatment did not affect the growth of Colletotrichum musae in vitro. Transcriptomic analysis of banana peel showed that 339 genes were up-regulated and 241 were down-regulated in the peel after melatonin treatment, compared with the control. Based on GO terms and KEGG pathway, these up-regulated genes were mainly categorized into signal transduction, cell wall formation, secondary metabolism, volatile compounds synthesis and response to stress, which might be related to the anti-anthracnose of banana fruit induced by melatonin treatment. This view was also supported by the increase of volatile compounds, cell wall components and IAA content in the melatonin-treated fruit peel via the metabolomic analysis. After melatonin treatment, auxin, ethylene and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways were enhanced, which might be involved in the enhanced fruit resistance by regulating physiological characteristics, disease-resistant proteins and metabolites.ConclusionsOur results provide a better understanding of the molecular processes in melatonin treatment delaying banana fruit senescence and anthracnose incidence.