Sicilian tomato productions are currently at risk due to concerns surrounding the potential threat of the “Tomato Fruit Blotch Virus” (ToFBV – Blunervirus solani). This comes at a time when the region has yet to fully recover from the damages inflicted by ToBRFV. The insidious nature of ToFBV, which closely resembles the Tobamovirus, poses a challenge as it can be easily misidentified, leading technicians and producers down the wrong treatment path. Renowned virologist and professor Walter Davino shared this alarming information during a recent convention in Ragusa, Sicily, highlighting the need for vigilance in addressing the emerging threat. Davino, being a leading global expert in the field, emphasized the importance of timely awareness and appropriate measures to safeguard Sicilian tomato crops.
“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 had not affected us so far,” reported Davino.
“This is worrying, as the virus can cause quite a lot of damage. It is a peculiar pathogen and we do not know it well – there is little information available internationally – so, there is not much we can do at the moment.”
“Our understanding of this virus reveals its insidious nature, with plants exhibiting no symptoms until the berries undergo a color change, rendering them unsuitable for commercialization. This characteristic results in total damage, leading to the loss of the entire production. Additionally, we’ve identified the mode of transmission, with the virus spreading through a common mite – Aculopis lycopersici – which is prevalent in Sicily.”
“Additionally, it’s important to emphasize that there are no plants showing resistance or tolerance to the virus. As a result, our approach hinges on adhering to standard prophylaxis measures to restrict the pathogen within our region. Simultaneously, we must exert every possible effort to identify effective means to contain and combat the disease.”
The revelation of TiBRFV’s presence in Sicily came from Professor Davino in 2019. Stakeholders are urged to exercise caution and refrain from drawing premature conclusions or engaging in speculative discussions.