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How to recognize, treat, and control ToBRFV (Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus)

Written by Jasper Verhoeven | Last update:  20-05-2020

ToBRFV belongs to the genus of the Tobamoviruses which also includes tomato mosaic virus (ToMV) and tobacco mosaic virus (TMV).
 The virus spreads through people and tools, but also through bumblebees, birds and infected fruits. While most of the tomato varieties have built up resistance against Tobamoviruses (such as TMV and ToMV), research has shown that the virus breaks through the resistance (Tm-2 and TM-2 2(superscript)) that most tomato varieties have against Tobamoviruses. 

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Which crops are susceptible to the virus? 

Capsicum species, such as (hot) peppers, have components that the virus needs to grow (propagate). So far it is not known whether pepper varieties are resistant to ToBRFV. Resistant varieties are not affected by the virus. According to the literature, in a limited number of non-commercial paprika varieties, the Tobamo resistances can be broken under certain circumstances.

Recognize ToBRFV

The virus is mainly recognized by the mosaic pattern it leaves, in the head and shoots, on the youngest leaves and on the fruit of the tomato plant. The fruit get dots and yellow spots or there is deformation of the fruit and the leaf. It can also happen that the fruit turns brown and necrotic stripes appear on the stem and that stems and sepals dry out. In some cases you can see narrowed leaves.
A big risk with this virus is that the damage symptoms of ToBRFV resembles the image of Pepino mosaic and no measures are taken. This could lead to major damage; the virus spreads easily through the crop, productivity decreases and the fruit is no longer suitable for sale.

How long can the virus survive? 

It is said that the virus can survive for a long time in water, seeds, soil, material and plant material. How long ToBRFV can survive is not known.

Can you demonstrate the presence of the virus? 

It can be demonstrated whether a virus is present in the seed by using the international validated ISHI (International Seed Health Initiative) measurement method. When pre-screening with ELISA, it is important that the correct antibody is used. This can be done at various laboratories and research institutes. 

ToBRFV prevention

Because ToBRFV is easily spread mechanically, a strict hygiene plan is of great importance. The general hygiene within the company must be taken into account, so that contamination of the virus is prevented, and the spread by people and materials are limited. Also make sure that everyone who visits the company - both employees and other visitors - are aware of the hygiene measures and ensure strict compliance.

Every company will also have to make a thorough inventory of the incoming flows and the dangers of these flows. Think of several growers who work together with the same crates, for example in producer organizations. In this case, working with special harvest barrels and other barrels in which the product is disposed of is a good option. 

Treat & control ToBRFV

Treating & the control of ToBRFV is not possible. It requires a disinfectant which meets the criteria of a crop protection product. Products that are not authorized may cause damage or will not ensure the result desired. Therefore, when an outbreak of the virus occurs, the removal and destruction of the infected plants will have to be carried out immediately. Therefore, focus on prevention for 100%! However, there is a possibility to reduce the chance of the virus occurring in your crop and to prevent it from spreading.

Measures before entering the greenhouse:

  • Clean hands with disinfecting soap and then disinfect the dry hands again.
  • Install a hygiene station to disinfect hands and footwear.
  • Place disinfection mats where personnel and transport have to pass before entering the greenhouse.
  • Before re-entering the greenhouse, after a break, visiting the sanitary facilities, smoking, etc., disinfect and clean the hands again.
  • Let visitors wear gloves, overlays and hairnets everywhere.
  • Provide clean work clothing for staff.

Measures that can be taken in the greenhouse:

  • Disinfect the knives and scissors after each row of crops.
  • Disinfect hands while working.
  • Disinfect trolleys, spray trolleys and all moving equipment that comes into contact with the crop.
  • Clean and disinfect the entire greenhouse during the crop rotation. Tobamoviruses, including the ToBRFV, can survive for a long time, both on organic and non-organic material. See the protocol disinfection for tomato for an overview of all the measures you should take during the crop rotation.

In case of suspected contamination, be extra careful with everything that leaves the company, both people, materials and products. With good hygiene measures you can limit the spread of the virus as much as possible. 

» Watch the Q&A video about the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus

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Hygiënespecialist Jasper Verhoeven About Jasper Verhoeven

Jasper Verhoeven, product specialist disinfection, is the first point of contact for growers when it comes to hygiene. "Customised advice has become increasingly more important, due to the risen demand for hygiene measures in horticulture and the associated challenges. Every time, I see it as a challenge to help a grower to create the ultimate situation at his enterprise."

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