Index – Science – The Hungarian antidote kills this virus in fifteen seconds

Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit virus (ToBRFV), or brown wrinkle virus, causes yellowish or brownish spots on the fruit, which later becomes rough and the crop deforms. Since 2018, when it was first detected in Europe (Sicily), many hundred million euros in damage has already been caused to producers by the pathogen that originally appeared in Israel and Jordan in 2015 (hence the name Jordan virus).

Therefore, at the end of 2019, the European Union imposed a quarantine obligation on the affected production area and the complete destruction of the infected crop. However, this is difficult to perform and very expensive.

It spreads not only through infected seeds, seedlings, pollen, but also through gardeners ’shoes, clothes, tools, and tomato crates. Last year, the laboratory of the National Food Chain Safety Office (Nébih) identified the pathogen in a multi-hectare greenhouse in Csongrád-Csanád and Győr-Moson-Sopron counties.

The Jordan virus is a type of tobamovirus, but the antidote previously developed against the other two types of tobamovirus is ineffective against it. This is why a Hungarian company, together with the research group of the Biotechnology Research Institute of the Hungarian University of Agricultural and Life Sciences (MATE), was the first in the world to develop an effective disinfectant. As research leader Zoltán Szabó told Index: the first laboratory tests were successful, they recently started to use live material developed entirely in Hungary, including in an infected Austrian organic farm. The advantage of an antiviral agent is that it is not only fast-acting but also environmentally friendly and degrades completely.

(Cover image: Infected tomatoes. Photo: Shutterstock)