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Greenhouse Updates: May 22, 2023

Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) This Spring
May 22, 2023

Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) is an emerging disease issue in tomato crops worldwide. First identified in 2014, a number of outbreaks have since occurred in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Natural infection of pepper has also been reported. One report of eggplant infection has been recorded but not verified. Cut-leaf ground cherry (Physalis angulata) is also considered to be a host. Petunias have been infected experimentally but natural infection has not been reported. Research indicates that potatoes are not susceptible to ToBRFV.

The symptoms of ToBRFV on tomato and pepper can vary and include deformed, crinkled leaves, mosaic, mottling, flecking, yellowing, and browning. Fruit symptoms include discoloration and rough brown patches or ringspots. Irregular fruit shape and maturation patterns may also occur. Browning of the veins in the fruit calyx (the leaf-like structures around the attachment point) in the early stages of fruit ripening may also be observed. Symptom expression can vary widely among cultivars: some plants may be infected but remain asymptomatic.

ToBRFV is closely related to Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). Like TMV, ToBRFV is very contagious and can be transmitted from plant to plant by mechanical means such as handling and cultivation tools.

There are currently no tomato or pepper varieties that are completely resistant to ToBRFV.

Recently, two small seed companies in upstate New York sent e-mails to customers stating that some lots of ‘Brandywise’ and ‘Sweet Prince’ tomato seeds had tested positive for ToBRFV. If you receive notification of a positive ToBRFV test from your seed company or plant provider, you must assume that plants are infected. There are a few things you will need to do in order to insure that the virus is contained:

  • Cease sales of tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings immediately.
  • Remove all tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings on your property regardless of their origin. Put all plants along with soil and pots into garbage bags. Double bag or use heavy-duty construction bags. Dispose of everything in the trash. Discard any remaining seeds from the infected lot.
  • Disinfect indoor growing spaces and tools as thoroughly as possible using a 10% bleach solution; this is made by mixing 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Wear disposable gloves and disposable shoe covers while disinfecting and discard these when you are finished. Leave the greenhouse when you are finished and wash your clothing.

Do not start a new batch of tomato, pepper, or eggplant seeds this year.

Symptoms of Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV). Photos courtesy of Michigan State University Extension







For more information, refer to our ToBRFV fact sheet:

Those with specific questions or concerns about ToBRFV can contact Dr. Angela Madeiras at


- Angela Madeiras, Extension Educator and Diagnostician, UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab