Emerging threat from new tomato virus


Emerging threat from new tomato virus

UK growers are being urged to look out for symptoms of a potential new virus that could be devastating to UK crops of tomato and peppers.

First identified in Israel in 2014, Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) has now been confirmed in Holland and Germany and therefore poses a potential and significant risk to UK production.

AHDB has issued information to help growers, glasshouse and packhouse staff to identify the symptoms in anticipation of its arrival in the UK. Recommendations on preventing infection and spread through hygiene measures are also available. The virus results in unmarketable fruit and can affect up to 100 per cent of stock, which could have substantial economic impact. The home production market value of UK tomatoes was £104.9m in 2017.

Nathalie Key, Knowledge Exchange Manager at AHDB, said: “While the virus isn’t yet in the UK, we are mobilising resource to make sure that the industry are aware of the possible symptoms. It’s important growers are aware of hygiene protocols to minimise the risk of infection.”


The virus is related to Tobacco mosaic virus and Tomato Mosaic virus, however varieties with resistance to those viruses will be susceptible to ToBRFV. Tomato is a major host of ToBRFV, but trials have demonstrated that sweet pepper can act as minor host, showing slight symptoms.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Mosaic staining of the leaves
  • Discoloration fruit with yellow spots
  • Deformation of fruits

Adrian Fox, Senior Plant Virologist, Fera Science said: “Tomato brown rugose fruit virus has the potential to spread rapidly by plant handling and cutting, and also via bumblebees during pollination. We are monitoring the situation in Europe but UK growers need to be vigilant for symptoms. Applying good hygiene measures should help to reduce the risk of spread within a glasshouse should an outbreak occur.”

Phil Pearson, Group Development Director, APS Group , said: “As an industry we need to work together to prevent crops suffering business damaging crop loss, and I delighted that the AHDB and FERA have responded very quickly to our call for help. Collectively we must leave no stone un-turned.”

Suspected outbreaks should be reported to the relevant authority.

For more information about the virus, download the poster and get hygiene recommendations, visit ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-library/tomato-brown-rugose-fruit-virus

bacterial spot

Bacterial Spot

Xanthomonas species are responsible for a whole host of diseases in tomatoes and peppers. Tomatoes and peppers are fairly susceptible to a large range of diseases caused by Xanthomonas spp. This tests for X.vesicatoria, X.euvesicatoria, X.gardneri and X. perforans (Tomato only).

Tomato virus diagnosis screening

Tomato virus diagnosis screening

There are over 100 tomato viruses affecting crops worldwide. These can result in significant challenges to crop quality and yield. Symptoms can include a range of mosaic patterns on leaves, stunted growth in some cases and discoloured fruit.


Bacterial Canker

More commonly known as bacterial canker of tomato, the first symptoms are reversible wilting of leaves during warm weather. Leaves can show white then brown interveinal necrosis. Wilting quickly takes hold and the whole plant desiccates. As this bacteria is seed transmitted and contaminated seeds usually give rise to apparently healthy seedlings, symptoms only appear as plants reach maturity.


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