The Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) is certainly not the first virus tomato growers have had to deal with. The growers already had to face the Tobamovirus and the Pepino Mosaic Virus before. The Dutch newspaper, Algemeen Dagblad, provided a small history lesson, which showed that tomato cultivation benefits from shorter cultivation periods as long as there is no resistance against ToBRFV.
René van der Vlugt, plant virologist at Wageningen University & Research and Rik Lootens, a breeder at Syngenta, take a look at the past and future.
When compared to other countries, a ‘large part’ of the tomato growers in the Netherlands has vaccinated their crops against the Pepino Mosaic Virus. “Which means the growers already have a virus in their cultivation”, says Van der Vlught. “If the plants then also become infected with the Rugose-virus, then you end up with two viruses. It is still unclear what this would mean for the cultivation.”
Van der Vlugt still can’t say much about the virus’s impact on the production. Rik Lootens of breeding company Syngenta, who has previously stated that to cross in the resistance would take time, says that the virus affects fifty percent of the harvest. In previous tomato viruses, this was ten to fifteen percent.