Tomato and pepper producers in the provinces of Almeria and Granada, mainly those growing in greenhouses, have been warned by the Andalusian Council of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development about the threat of the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV).
The European Commission has also warned agricultural producers that they should keep a close eye on the disease and become familiar with the measures necessary for its control. It also pointed out that the Member States must carry out annual controls to detect the presence of the organism in order to guarantee a more proactive approach against its settling and propagation.
The ToBRFV is a very persistent and easily transmissible virus for which there is still no protection, so the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) decided to add it to the Alert List in January of 2019.
On September 30, 2019, the executive decision (EU) 2019/1615 of the Commission of September 26, 2019 was published, establishing emergency measures to prevent the introduction and spread in the Union of the ToBRFV.
In tomatoes and peppers
The most affected crops are tomatoes and peppers. In tomatoes, it produces chlorosis, mosaic and mottling and narrowing of the leaves. Occasionally, necrotic spots appear on peduncles, chalices and petioles. In the fruits, yellow or brown spots can appear, as well as a rugoseness that makes the fruits unmarketable. The fruits may also be deformed and have ripened irregularly.
In peppers, deformation, yellowing and mosaic on the leaves may be observed. The fruits deform with yellow or brown areas or green stripes.
The ToBRFV is transmitted by contact (contaminated tools, hands, clothing, direct contact from plant to plant) or through the propagation material (grafts, cuttings).
It is suspected that seed transmission may be possible, but this has yet to be verified.
Tobamovirus can remain infective in seeds, plant debris and contaminated soil for months. They are found in the seed cover and in the endosperm, which could explain why conventional seed disinfection treatments are not completely effective in controlling them.
Recent experiments in greenhouses have shown that the ToBRFV can be carried by bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) and transmitted to healthy tomato plants during pollination (mechanically).
To prevent the infection of the plantations and the transmission of the disease, control measures based primarily on prophylaxis and hygiene should be implemented.