Methanol is a frequently used solvent, and a volatile organic compound (VOC) released from plant cell walls through the action of pectin methylesterases. Tran et al. show that cell wall-produced methanol is a signal in plant immunity and interplant communication.
This VOC is able to effectively induce a rapid signalling process dependent on reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and cytosolic Ca2+ variations. These lead to plant responses to pathogens such as plasma membrane depolarization through anion channel regulation and ethylene synthesis.