Media reports on mysterious new tomato virus

Aug 15, 2008

A new virus has appeared on tomatoes in Northern California, according to an article in the Woodland Daily Democrat that the paper attributed to Bob Johnson of AgAlert.

The story said the new virus looks like tobacco streak virus, which is fairly common in the delta. But when University of California plant pathologists ran DNA tests for tobacco streak on tissue samples from the diseased plants, they came back negative. Tests for other familiar tomato viruses have also come back negative.

"The symptoms on plants are an odd combination between tobacco streak and spotted wilt. Young branches have necrotic streaks beginning near the apical growth but extending five inches or so at times down the stem," the story quoted Gene Miyao, the UCCE vegetable crops farm advisor for Yolo County.

At this point, Miyao said, the new disease is not devastating, but it is unnerving because no one knows how serious it could become or how it should be managed.

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By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist