A group of researchers from the Institute of Subtropical and Mediterranean Horticulture (IHSM) La Mayora, led by Elvira Fiallo and Jesús Navas, recently published an article in the journal Molecular Plant Pathology in which they analyze the available information on the Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), which is transmitted through a vector insect: the whitefly Bemisia tabaci.
According to Navas, the virus has been detected in more than thirty countries. In Spain, it was detected for the first time in 1997. She also highlighted that while the virus doesn't kill the plant, it is transmitted by the whitefly. It is, according to this researcher, a virus for which there are currently no tolerant or resistant varieties, so the fight is focused on tackling the insect vector.
The IHSM La Mayora, integrated by the University of Malaga and the Superior Council of Scientific Research (CSIC), has been working for years on the search of tomato varieties with resistance to whitefly, which transmits the TYLCV.
One of the research lines is based on the use of wild tomato varieties capable of repelling pests produced by insects and mites.
According to La Mayora researcher Jesus Navas, the Tomato yellow leaf curl virus causes the yellowing of the leaves of the plant affected, which means that the photosynthesis is not carried out properly, causing a general decay of the tomato plant and a reduction in the size of its fruits, preventing them also from ripening at the same time. This leads to producers suffering huge losses.
Tomatoes are one of Andalusia's main horticultural crops, and Almeria is the province with the largest production, with more than 10,000 hectares and 992,669 tons in the 2017-2018 campaign. It is followed by Granada, with 3,484 hectares and 345,026 tons last season. According to data from the Andalusian government, this production generated 882,593,000 Euro in turnover in the aforementioned campaign.