Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV)

Find out about the symptoms, spread and outbreaks of this damaging virus. Plus, learn about the hygiene recommendations to protect your tomato and sweet pepper crops. 

What is ToBRFV?

Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) was first identified in Israel in 2014 and now affects tomato and sweet pepper crops around the world. It has the potential to have significant economic impact on commercial production due to reduced crop quality and yield, and the need to implement extra biosecurity measures to minimise risk of infection. The first UK outbreak was reported in June 2019.

ToBRFV steering group

AHDB has formed a ToBRFV steering group to help form a response to, and mitigate for, this virus threat from a UK perspective. The group consists of commercial tomato and pepper growers, AHDB research and knowledge exchange staff, independent researchers, and representatives from Defra Plant Health and Fera Science Ltd. The goal of the group is to support the tomato and pepper industry in the following ways:

  • Keep up to date on UK, EU and global outbreaks, including plant and seed interceptions
  • Discuss updates and feedback to Defra on legislation and protocols affecting the management of this virus in the UK and EU
  • Prioritise research activity for funding by AHDB, including ongoing and planned work on outbreak prevention through understanding virus survival, spread and disinfection
  • Ensure accurate and timely information on ToBRFV from AHDB through multiple channels
  • Gain feedback from industry on what support they require
  • Horizon scan and form international links to share information on prevention, detection and control of ToBRFV
  • Support the management of media and press enquiries around this virus, to ensure appropriate, accurate, reliable and timely information is released, and commercial sensitivities are respected
  • Collate information on UK outbreaks with affected businesses, where agreed and appropriate, and signpost them to further information and support

All information raised, discussed, and actioned by the group, unless mutually agreed otherwise, remains confidential. Please email Nikki Harrison (Head of Business Development) if you would like to get in touch with the group.

If you have questions about the ToBRFV resources on these pages, email Nathalie Key (Knowledge Exchange Manager for Horticulture).

Outbreak management and reporting

Read the latest information on UK and international outbreaks of ToBRFV from Defra’s plant health portal and the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) global database. Find out who you should contact and what procedures you should follow in the event of a suspected or confirmed outbreak.

ToBRFV: Outbreak management and reporting

What are the symptoms?

Learn about the biology and key symptoms of ToBRFV, which include mosaic patterning on leaves, brown necrotic streaks on stems, and brown wrinkled (rugose) patches on fruit. View our symptoms gallery for signs of ToBRFV in crop. 

The symptoms of ToBRFV

Survival and disinfection

See the latest results from the AHDB-funded ToBRFV survival and disinfection research project. Find out how long the virus can survive on different glasshouse surfaces, and which disinfectants are most likely to control the spread, and reduce the risk of infection.

ToBRFV: Survival and disinfection

Hygiene best practice and biosecurity

Hygiene best practice procedures should be implemented as standard in any horticultural business. Find out how to use precautionary measures to reduce the likelihood of infection and minimise the impact of an outbreak, should one occur.

ToBRFV: Hygiene and biosecurity

Testing for ToBRFV in tomato seed

Fera Science Ltd. is the only UK organisation to offer seed testing for ToBRFV at present.

Email contact: Adrian Fox.

The recommended number of seeds to test and the associated costs are outlined in the table below:


Detection limits
(95% confidence)




0.1% infection

£450 + VAT

10 working days


0.3% infection

£226 + VAT

10 working days

A similar service is provided by Naktuinbouw in the Netherlands. Email contact: Harrie Koenraadt, Head of Seed Testing.