Europe remains in the grip of ToBRFV

In Israel the first varieties with ToBRFV IR might have been planted, but Europe remains in the grip of the virus. Although five Dutch growers have successfully combatted the contamination, the virus was persistent enough to also infect the new crop in four more greenhouses. Also the first Belgium greenhouse has been affected and also the NPPO of Spain reported further cases of ToBRFV. 

A total of five tomato growers, representing over 39 hectares of glasshouses, have successfully combated the Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) in the Netherlands. An earlier infection at a plant grower has also been successfully tackled. Measures are in place at four growers who received plants from the grower. 

A newly released Pest Report show that control was not successful everywhere, because ToBRFV was also found in the new crop at 4 locations.

A total of 434.5 hectares is currently still under official control, representing a total of 23 production locations. In the meantime, some growers have switched (partly) to other crops after being infected by the virus. Like the growers who started growing tomatoes again, they too remain under supervision and must be officially released after a re-inspection.

In Belgium, ToBRFV was first detected in August 2020 following trace-back activities conducted by the NPPO of the Netherlands on a seed lot of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). These seeds were used to grow tomato plants for experiments in a greenhouse (biosafety level 2) in a University. ToBRFV was detected in one tomato plant. All tomato plants and the remaining seeds were destroyed.

ToBRFV was detected again in December 2020 in a greenhouse for tomato fruit production. Symptoms were observed in some scattered plants. The grower had bought plantlets from a nursery in the Netherlands where the virus had earlier been detected. As the plants were in the middle of their growth cycle, strict hygiene measures have been imposed at the greenhouse and at the packing station (including cleaning and disinfection of packaging material) to allow trade of tomatoes. The greenhouse will have to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after removal of the crop (under strict conditions). The following crop in this production site will be inspected, sampled and tested at least six months after planting, to verify the absence of the virus, before measures could be lifted.

ToBRFV was first detected in Spain in October 2019 in one greenhouse producing tomato fruits in the municipality of Vícar, Almería province, and later in the neighbouring municipalities of Vicar and El Ejido. In the framework of its official surveys conducted in 2020, the NPPO of Spain reported further cases of ToBRFV. 

As part of the following up investigations on the outbreak detected in El Ejido, the NPPO of Spain detected the presence of ToBRFV in sweet pepper seeds in a research centre in the municipality of El Ejido. A sampling procedure was designed for the 3 495 seed lots (research lines) to identify which lots were infected by ToBRFV. All seed from the 41 lots that made up the positive grouped sample were destroyed. The remaining lots tested negative. Investigations to identify the origin of infected seeds are being carried out.

In October 2020, a new outbreak of ToBRFV was found in a tomato crop in the municipality of Almeria in a greenhouse for research. Official phytosanitary measures have been applied, including the destruction of all tomato plants.

As part of official surveys, in November 2020, ToBRFV was detected in asymptomatic sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum) mother plants by group sampling in two municipalities:
1) in 2 units of a breeding company (one dedicated to commercial seed production, and one for research) in the municipality of Vicar;
2) in another company producing commercial seed in the municipality of El Ejido. All the seed stock produced from these mother plants was held on site. Mother plants will be tested individually and the mother plants (along with the seeds derived from them) will be destroyed if they are found to be infected.


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