EPPO Alert List Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (Tobamovirus - ToBRFV)




Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (Tobamovirus, ToBRFV) was first identified on tomatoes in Jordan in 2015 (EPPO RS 2016/024), outbreaks have recently occurred in Italy (EPPO RS 2019/013), in Mexico (EPPO RS 2019/014), Turkey (EPPO RS 2019/123), China (EPPO RS 2019/143) and the United Kingdom (EPPO RS 2019/163) where the virus causes major concerns for growers of tomato and capsicum. As ToBRFV is an emerging virus and tomato is an important crop in the EPPO region, the EPPO Secretariat decided to add it to the EPPO Alert List.



In Germany and the USA (California), isolated outbreaks were detected in 2018 in glasshouse tomato crops and  were subsequently eradicated.

EPPO region: Israel (first disease symptoms in 2014), Italy (eradicated from Piemonte, Sicilia), Jordan (first identified in 2015), Turkey (first found in 2019), United Kingdom (Kent, first found in 2019).

North America: Mexico (under eradication).

Asia: China (Shandong), Israel, Jordan, Turkey.

Symptoms of ToBRFV on tomatoes
Courtesy: Diana Godínez (MX) – more pictures 


On which plants

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and capsicum (Capsicum sp.) are the main hosts. Inoculation experiments showed that Nicotiana benthamiana, N. glutinosa, N. sylvestris, N. tabacum (tobacco) develop symptoms and that weeds such as Chenopodiastrum murale and Solanum nigrum may act as reservoirs for ToBRFV. In one study, aubergine (Solanum melongena) and potato (S. tuberosum) did not show symptoms after inoculation of the virus and ToBRFV was not found when the plants were subsequently tested by ELISA. (Luria et al., 2017). More recently, it was reported that ToBRFV was detected in a sample of aubergine collected from the state of Sinaloa, Mexico (Senasica, 2019).



On tomatoes, symptoms vary depending on varieties. Tomato cultivars with the Tm-22 resistance gene (used against other tobamoviruses) are susceptible to ToBRFV. On tomato, foliar symptoms include chlorosis, mosaic and mottling with occasional leaf narrowing. Necrotic spots may appear on peduncles, calyces and petioles. Fruit show yellow or brown spots, with rugose symptoms rendering the fruits non-marketable. Fruits may be deformed and have irregular maturation. In the paper describing the first finding in Israel, diseased plants had 10 to 15% symptomatic fruit. In Jordan, in the first reported outbreak, disease incidence reached almost 100%. On capsicum, foliar symptoms include deformation, yellowing and mosaic. Capsicum fruits are deformed, with yellow or brown areas or green stripes.


Yellow spots on tomatoes

Courtesy: Dr Aviv Dombrovsky

Rugosis on leaves
Courtesy: Diana Godínez (MX)

Symptoms on a tomato
Courtesy: Diana Godínez (MX)




ToBRFV is transmitted by contact (contaminated tools, hands, clothing, direct plant-to-plant contact) and propagation material (grafts, cuttings). Seed transmission of ToBRFV is suspected but needs to be verified. Tobamoviruses can remain infective in seeds, plant remains and contaminated soil for months. They are found in the seed coat and the endosperm, which could explain why conventional seed disinfection treatments are not fully effective to control them. Even if transmission from seed to seedling is low, further dissemination by contact (e.g. during transplantation of seedlings or regular handling of the crop) allows a rapid spread within a glasshouse. Recent glasshouse experiments have shown that ToBRFV could be carried by bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) and transmitted to healthy tomato plants during pollination (mechanically). The disease was first observed in autumn 2014 in Israel and further spread occurred across the entire country within one year, because of human-assisted spread and trade of infected seeds or seedlings.



Plants for planting, seeds? from countries where ToBRFV occurs. The virus is also spread locally by contact.


Possible risks

Tomato and capsicum are important crops grown in the entire EPPO region under protected conditions. Symptoms of the disease makes the fruit unmarketable. Once the virus is introduced in an area, control measures are very limited and mainly rely on elimination of infected plants and strict hygiene measures. Testing methods (ELISA, RT-PCR) are available to detect the virus in the seed. It therefore seems desirable to avoid its further introduction and spread within the region.



Chitambar J (2018) California pest rating for Tomato brown rugose fruit virus. https://blogs.cdfa.ca.gov/Section3162/?p=5843

Dombrovsky A, Smith E (2017) Seed transmission of tobamoviruses: aspects of global disease distribution, pp 234-260. In: Jose C. Jimenez-Lopez (ed.). Seed Biology. IntechOpen. 338 p. http://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.70244

Fidan H, Sarikaya P, Calis O (2019) First report of Tomato brown rugose fruit virus on tomato in Turkey. New Disease Reports 39, 18. http://dx.doi.org/10.5197/j.2044-0588.2019.039.018


SADER & SENASICA (2019) presentations made at the Seminario sobre virus del género Tobamovirus con énfasis en el Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV): Medidas fitosanitarias para el manejo del virus rugoso del tomate. Retrieved from http://www.cesaveson.com/files/docs/eventos/Seminario Tomato/MedidasFitosanitarias.pdf

Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV): caso Mexico. Retrieved from http://www.cesaveson.com/files/docs/eventos/Seminario Tomato/AntecedentesTomato.pdf

JKI (2019) Express – PRA zum Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (revised). https://pflanzengesundheit.julius-kuehn.de/dokumente/upload/ToBRFV_exp-pra-rev1_de.pdf

Levitzky N, Smith E, Lachman O, Luria N, Mizrahi Y, Bakelman H, Sela N, Laskar O, Milrot E, Dombravsky A (2019) The bumblebee Bombus terrestris carries a primary inoculum of Tomato brown rugose fruit virus contributing to disease spread in tomatoes. PLoS ONE 14(1): e0210871.

Luria N, Smith E, Reingold V, Bekelman I, Lapidot M, Levin I, et al. (2017) A new Israeli Tobamovirus isolate infects tomato plants harboring Tm-22 resistance genes. PLoS ONE 12(1). e0170429. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0170429

NPPO of Germany (2019-07).

NPPO of Italy (2019-05, 2019-07, 2019-09).

NPPO of Turkey (2019-06).

NPPO of the United Kingdom (2019-07).

SENASICA (2019-08).

Sagarpa-Senasica (2018) Guía de síntomas de Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV). 19 pp.

Sagarpa-Senasica (2018) Medidas de manejo elegibles para: Tomato brown rugose fruit virus. Version 1.1. 15 pp.

Yan Z-Y, Ma H-Y, Han S-L, Geng C, Tian Y-P, Li X-D (2019) First report of Tomato brown rugose fruit virus infecting tomato in China. Plant Disease (early view). DOI: 10.1094/PDIS-05-19-1045-PDN


EPPO RS 2016/024, 2019/012, 2019/013, 2019/014, 2019/015, 2019/027, 2019/049, 2019/123, 2019/124, 2019/143, 2019/144, 2019/145, 2019/163, 2019/191, 2019/192