Global warming increases plant salt stress via evaporation after irrigation, but how plant cells sense salt stress remains unknown. Here, we searched for correlation-based targets of salt stress sensing in Chenopodium rubrum cell suspension cultures. We proposed a linkage between the sensing of salt stress and the sensing of distinct metabolites. Consequently, we analysed various extracellular pH signals in autotroph and heterotroph cell suspensions. Our search included signals after 52 treatments: salt and osmotic stress, ion channel inhibitors (amiloride, quinidine), salt-sensing modulators (proline), amino acids, carboxylic acids and regulators (salicylic acid, 2,4-dichlorphenoxyacetic acid). Multivariate analyses revealed hirarchical clusters of signals and five principal components of extracellular proton flux. The principal component correlated with salt stress was an antagonism of γ-aminobutyric and salicylic acid, confirming involvement of acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) in salt stress sensing. Proline, short non-substituted mono-carboxylic acids (C2–C6), lactic acid and amiloride characterised the four uncorrelated principal components of proton flux. The proline-associated principal component included an antagonism of 2,4-dichlorphenoxyacetic acid and a set of amino acids (hydrophobic, polar, acidic, basic). The five principal components captured 100% of variance of extracellular proton flux. Thus, a bias-free, functional high-throughput screening was established to extract new clusters of response elements and potential signalling pathways, and to serve as a core for quantitative meta-analysis in plant biology. The eigenvectors reorient research, associating proline with development instead of salt stress, and the proof of existence of multiple components of proton flux can help to resolve controversy about the acid growth theory.