In August 2020, a sample of Pittosporum tobria was submitted to Fera Science Ltd, from a nursery in West Sussex, United Kingdom (UK). The sample was sent in during a routine plant health inspection, where the presence of an unknown disease was discovered on twenty plants. Symptoms included chlorotic mottling of veins and adjacent tissues along with the distortion of leaves. The sample was tested by high throughput sequencing (HTS) on a MinION sequencer (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) and nucleotide sequence analyses (GenBank Accession No. OQ716556) A total number of 178,904 read pairs were obtained and eggplant mottled dwarf virus (EMDV) and pittosporum cryptic virus 1 (GenBank Accession No. OQ716558) were identified. The presence of EMDV was confirmed by ELISA using a specific antiserum (Loewe, Germany).

In February 2022, two Pittosporum tobria were submitted to Fera Science Ltd, from a nursery in Gloucestershire, UK. Plants exhibited similar symptoms to those previously seen, and tested positive for EMDV by ELISA (DSMZ, Germany).EMDV and pittosporum cryptic virus 1 were confirmed by HTS using a MiSeq sequencer (Illumina UK) (Fowkes et al. 2021) (GenBank Accession No. OQ716555, OQ716557, OQ716559). In both instances plants were destroyed on advice from DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

EMDV has been assigned to the species Alphanucleorhabdovirus melongenae in the genus Alphanucleorhabdovirus, family Rhabdoviridae. It can spread through infected propagation material (De Stradis et al. 2008). EMDV can be transmitted by the leafhopper Anaceratogallia ribauti (Giustina et al. 2000) and as this leafhopper is present in the UK there is a possibility that this vector could be a source of the spread of the virus. Although the virus is highly damaging in vegetable crops, its impact remains minor because incidence in field is very low. This is the first record of EMDV in the UK.