Kees Konst, left with Martijn van Stee

In late 2020, Enza Zaden announced the discovery of the High Resistance (HR) gene to tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV), currently the only solution to beat this devastating disease. Fast forward to one year later. Where are we now? And what is yet to come?

Trials confirm high resistance

The Enza Zaden team has done extensive trials with high resistant varieties in the past year. Martijn van Stee, crop breeding manager, explains: “We trialed the first tomato varieties already in Europe, Mexico and the Middle East. And what we saw there really convinced us again that the ToBRFV resistance is holding very well.”

Kees Konst, crop research director, continues: “In the meantime, we started up the seed production of the hybrids. We already have some examples of high resistance varieties in our hands.”

Thereisa lot at stake for the entire fresh produce industry. With this innovation,theintroduction of ToBRFV high resistance willpotentiallysecure productionfor the tomato industry, from large multinationals through to smallholder farmers who cultivate the product.

With High Resistance (HR)level, theresistancegeneprovides rapidrecognitionof ToBRFVby the plant.In all Enza Zaden’sexperiments, the plantsand the fruitremainedfree of virusand therefore free of symptoms.Thisinnovationcancontribute to the eradication of the ToBRFV virus.

Emphasizing the importance of high resistance, Konst stresses: “With high resistance, you will not have any problems, because there is no virus in the plant. You keep everything clean, your soil, your water’’.

What's next?

Enza Zaden says eradicating the virus remains its top priority. “This is something we can only achieve together with the growers and the fresh produce industry,” says Martijn van Stee, crop breeding manager.

“Our breeders are very busy filling the pipeline. To make more elite parent lines with resistance, to make more varieties with resistance. The solution is right around the corner!”