Italian virologist Professor Walter Davino has warned tomato growers at a recent conference in Sicily, to be aware of a new virus affecting crops. According to Hortidaily, the new disease, Tomato Fruit Blotch Virus (ToFBV) is caused by Blunervirus solani and the symptoms can easily be mistaken for those of Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV).
“ToFBV, or Blunervirus solani, is a new disease we have found in the Ragusa territory. This pathogen was identified for the first time in 2018 in the Fondi area (Lazio) and has not affected us so far,” commented Professor Davino. “This is worrying, as the virus can cause quite a lot of damage. It is a peculiar pathogen as we do not know it well and, as there is little information available at international as well, there is not much we can do at the moment.”
Despite the risks, he urged growers not to jump to conclusions about the disease and to avoid speculation.
One of the key differences is that the infection is spread physically by Aculopis mites. “What we know about this virus is that it is insidious, as plants show no symptoms until the berries change their colour, meaning they can no longer be commercialized. This, in turn, means the damage is total and that the entire production is lost. The other thing we know is that it spreads via a well-known mite – Aculopis lycopersici – which is widespread in Sicily,” he added. It does not appear to be mechanically between plants.
In October last year, the British Society for Plant Physiology carried a report of the first confirmed outbreak of the disease infector tomato in Greece.