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Elucidating the nature of seed-borne transmission of tomato brown rugose fruit virus in tomato, bell pepper, and eggplant

  • Viral and Viroid Diseases
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Since the first report of the tobamovirus tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) in 2014, it has become globally distributed. Its rapid spread has been primarily attributed to seed-borne transmission. Here, the seed-borne nature of ToBRFV transmission was investigated in different cultivars of tomato, bell pepper, and eggplant. In situ hybridization to localize the virus in reproductive organs of ToBRFV-infected tomato plants revealed that the virus was not present in shoot apices, flower buds, or in ovules during flower opening, indicating the virus may be restricted to the outer integument and transported in the vascular bundles during seed development. However, during early fruit development, the virus was present in the integuments in the ovule. Seeds of tomato cultivars with or without tobamovirus resistance gene Tm-22 transmitted the virus to the progeny seedlings at rates that reflected the ineffectiveness of the gene against ToBRFV. Seeds of bell peppers transmitted ToBRFV at higher rates than tomato seeds, but a bell pepper cultivar that has resistance gene L3 was not systemically infected, and its seeds did not harbor the virus. Three eggplant cultivars were systemically infected with ToBRFV but without showing any obvious symptoms, and even though ToBRFV was present in their seeds, the seedlings were not infected. ToBRFV was detected in the seed coats of contaminated tomato and bell pepper seeds, but not in eggplant seed coats. These results indicate mechanistic differences in seed-borne transmission among the three Solanaceae crops.

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The authors thank Y. Narita, K. Nakata, and Y. Matsumura for preparing the experimental materials and T. Sakurai for statistical analysis. This work was supported by Regulatory research projects for food safety, animal health and plant protection (JP J008617. 20320466) funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan.


Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, JP J008617. 20320466, Kenji Kubota.

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Correspondence to Kenji Kubota.

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Matsushita, Y., Takeyama, S., Tomitaka, Y. et al. Elucidating the nature of seed-borne transmission of tomato brown rugose fruit virus in tomato, bell pepper, and eggplant. J Gen Plant Pathol 90, 23–34 (2024).

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