Leaf and root pectin methylesterase activity and 13C/12C stable isotopic ratio measurements of methanol emissions give insight into methanol production in Lycopersicon esculentum


Author for correspondence:
Patricia Yoshino Oikawa
Tel: +1 650 799 2808
Email: pyo6n@virginia.edu


  • Plant production of methanol (MeOH) is a poorly understood aspect of metabolism, and understanding MeOH production in plants is crucial for modeling MeOH emissions. Here, we have examined the source of MeOH emissions from mature and immature leaves and whether pectin methylesterase (PME) activity is a good predictor of MeOH emission. We also investigated the significance of below-ground MeOH production for mature leaf emissions.
  • We present measurements of MeOH emission, PME activity, and MeOH concentration in mature and immature tissues of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum). We also present stable carbon isotopic signatures of MeOH emission and the pectin methoxyl pool.
  • Our results suggest that below-ground MeOH production was not the dominant contributor to daytime MeOH emissions from mature and immature leaves. Stable carbon isotopic signatures of mature and immature leaf MeOH were similar, suggesting that they were derived from the same pathway. Foliar PME activity was related to MeOH flux, but unexplained variance suggested PME activity could not predict emissions.
  • The data show that MeOH production and emission are complex and cannot be predicted using PME activity alone. We hypothesize that substrate limitation of MeOH synthesis and MeOH catabolism may be important regulators of MeOH emission.