Virus Threat – Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV)

April 25, 2019

There is a new virus threat that has brought concerns to tomato and pepper growers in Canada. The Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) was first detected in 2014 and since then, more recent detections have occurred in Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Mexico, and the United States (California).

Information on the virus is still developing; in the meantime, here are some quick facts about ToBRFV:

  • This virus HAS NOT been found in Canada
  • The virus predominantly affects tomatoes and peppers. However, tobacco, petunias, and some common weeds have also shown to be potential hosts
  • ToBRFV spreads very easily – this includes seed transmission (not seed borne), and mechanical transmission at every stage of growth from seed to fruit (clippers, gloves, re-usable plastic containers, carts, workers, consultants, etc.)
  • Seed companies are very concerned about the virus as all commercial varieties are likely susceptible
  • ToBRFV is very stable in the environment and can live for months to years without a plant host.
  • Since it is a virus, prevention is critical.
  • Symptoms are very similar to other plant viruses like Tomato Mosaic Virus, Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus, and Pepino Mosaic Virus
  • Questions should be directed to your provincial association, provincial specialists, and/or local scouting companies. If you suspect this virus, ensure testing is done at a Canadian lab

In light of this potential threat, it is important for growers to review and renew biosecurity efforts. Strict sanitation and disinfection protocols for site visitors, workers, clothing, equipment, tools, etc. is critical to prevent viral transmission. And make sure that you use only trusted seed sources.

Additional resources:
Greenhouse Visitor Biosecurity Postcard – OGVG
Q&A on the new ToBRFV – ASTA