TomaTech, Ltd., announced a major advancement in the fight against the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV), which has caused significant amount of economic damage estimated as much as billions of dollars in the last few years across the globe.

Lead by Assaf Eybishitz, the company advanced the fight against this pandemic of the tomato world by filing for a provisional patent for recognizing the DNA markers correlated with its resistant traits which will boost up the breeding and commercialization of high resistance non-GMO tomato varieties.

Ofer Ben Zvi, CEO of TomaTech apprised- “Following years of intensive research and development efforts, TomatTech has succeeded in identifying DNA markers that elicit resistance to ToBRFV. This discovery will allow us to rapidly develop a complete portfolio of resistant tomato varieties for global introduction and will benefit the growers and the entire value chain, providing a consistent supply chain while lowering production costs.”

What is ToBRFV virus?

The ToBRFV virus has been imposing havoc on in-door tomato plantations worldwide since 2014, influencing a broad spectrum of tomatoes, from sweet cherry lines to full-sized beefsteak tomatoes. Outbreaks have overwhelmed greenhouses across the North America, Europe, and the Middle East and are spreading to other regions also.

The appearance of ToBRFV on commercial tomato cultivations came with a considerable amount of threat to tomato planters and to the entire value chain globally, causing severe damage to commercial varieties. It already has caused massive losses in yields, ranging from 30% to 100% devastation of the crops.

Due to the virus’ potential to spread at a rapid rate via mechanic transmission, especially under intense production practices, hygiene protocols have been inflicted that mandate farmers to wear full protective gear and fully isolate virus-infected greenhouses.

Development of a portfolio of resistant varieties needs exceptional phenotyping and genotyping abilities. TomaTech aimed virus resistance as one of its top research and development mission and has been working intensively since 2017 to create new sources of resistance and the new cultivars.

Favi Vidavski, PhD, president and head of research and development at TomaTech informed- “The ability to find strong resistance as well as identify DNA markers, protecting our IP through submission of provisional patent application, demonstrates TomaTech’s capabilities to position itself at the front line in the research and breeding of the tomatoes varieties for the global market.”

Recognizing DNA markers

“We developed an advanced highly efficient screening system based on controlled inoculation and molecular technology where we continually tested tens of thousands of tomato plants under the most severe conditions. We reached a breakthrough a year ago with the discovery of specific DNA markers that proved instrumental in helping us isolate, identify and introduce ToBRFV-resistant genes, which we bred into our principal commercial tomato varieties,” explained Vidavski.

Intermediate resistance vs. high resistance

TomaTech have already introduced intermediate resistance (IR) capabilities across its entire breeding program while concurrently widening attempts to attain the next stage of high resistance (HR), estimated to be finished anytime soon in the coming future.

“We have successfully identified and produced an impressive portfolio of commercial ToBRFV-resistant (IR) tomatoes that already are available for our customers,” declared Vidavski.

TomaTech’s avant-garde can be applied to a wide range of tomato varieties across all segments and can be adapted to both heated and non-heated greenhouses. TomaTech will be continuing to invest efforts and agronomical inputs to come up with real solutions for planters.

“Since its first appearance in 2014, the ToBRFV virus has presented a heavy burden for growers around the globe and for many dealt a heavy blow to their crops. Our unique breeding methodology not only boosts resilience but also positively enhances flavor and fruit quality characteristics, ensuring that the needs of retailers are met and that consumers will have continuous access to healthy, attractive, and flavourful tomato varieties,” Ben Zvi stated.

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