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 Phil Morley (group chair and Technical Executive Officer of the Tomato Growers' Association) or Adrian Fox (Fera's Principle Plant Virologist) 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 (Research and 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

Grower experiences of a ToBRFV outbreak

We carried out three case studies with UK growers who have had a ToBRFV outbreak on their sites, to explore their first hand experience. Find out how the virus was found and reported, the symptoms that were observed, pattern of spread and how the outbreak was managed. 

ToBRFV outbreak case studies

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.


Useful links and resources

Watch our latest webinars and listen to our podcasts

Read the ToBRFV frequently asked questions

View AHDB’s Biosecurity Guide in Protected Edibles

ToBRFV: Key take-home messages for industry from the 2019 tomato conference

ToBRFV factsheet produced by the Julius Kűhn Institute in Germany

Government resources and guidance

Visit the UK Plant Health Risk Register

Defra’s Plant Health Portal

Defra Plant Health Portal's latest update on ToBRFV - August 2021

Government guidance on plant health controls

Scottish Government’s plant health policy

Northern Ireland’s Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

ToBRFV news

ToBRFV legislation update - Defra Plant Health Portal

Bayer launches trial of new tomato varieties with resistance to ToBRFV

Enza Zaden - development of resistant varieties

New testing method for ToBRFV - Wageningen University & Research

Information from the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO)

Download the EPPO data sheet on ToBRFV

Read the new EPPO standard describing a diagnostic protocol for detection and identification of ToBRFV

View the recorded presentations from the online British Tomato Conference 2020

Online British Tomato Conference 2020 – full recording

View presentations on ToBRFV from the 2019 British Tomato Conference

ToBRFV Survival and Disinfection – Anna Skelton (Fera)

Hygiene management for ToBRFV – Jasper Verhoeven (Royal Brinkman)

ToBRFV: EU legislation and outbreak management – Matthew Everatt (Defra)

APS: Actions to prevent ToBRFV – Phil Pearson (APS)

ToBRFV: Current status and perspectives – Aviv Dombrovsky (Volcani Institute)

Image of staff member Nathalie Key

Nathalie Key

Research and Knowledge Exchange Manager

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