Biosecurity Fact Sheet: Pepino mosaic virus and pospiviroids associated with tomato seed

​Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, March 2018

The factsheet provides an overview of the risk analysis for Pepino mosaic virus and pospiviroids associated with tomato seed.

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Key points                                                               

  • The department is conducting a pest risk analysis for Pepino mosaic virus (PepMV) and pospiviroids associated with tomato seed, imports of which are currently the subject of emergency measures.
  • This pest risk analysis aims to assess the risks posed by the plant pathogens, evaluate the existing emergency measures, consider ongoing phytosanitary measures and ensure any ongoing phytosanitary measures are technically justified.
  • A draft report is being prepared for public consultation and is aimed for release in April 2018.

About the pest risk analysis

We started preliminary work for the pest risk analysis when emergency measures were introduced to manage the risks presented by the plant pathogens on tomato seed.

The pospiviroids managed under the emergency measures are Columnea latent viroid (CLVd), Pepper chat fruit viroid (PCFVd), Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd), Tomato apical stunt viroid (TASVd), Tomato chlorotic dwarf viroid (TCDVd) and Tomato planta macho viroid (TPMVd).

In 2008 the department introduced emergency measures on tomato seed imports in response to incursions of PSTVd in Australia. The emergency measures were amended in 2012 to implement mandatory testing of tomato seed imports for PepMV and the six pospiviroids, all of which are transmitted through tomato seeds to seedlings.

The pest risk analysis will consider seed of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and wild tomato (Solanum chilense, S. chmielewskii, S. parviflorum, S. peruvianum and S. pimpinellifolium).

PSTVd will not be assessed in this pest risk analysis because it is not considered to be a quarantine pest. The department is evaluating the status and impacts of PSTVd and until the evaluation has been completed, the emergency measures requiring testing for PSTVd will be maintained.

The emergency measures for PepMV and the other five pospiviroids will remain in place until this pest risk analysis is completed and any recommended ongoing phytosanitary measures are implemented.

The department aims to finalise this pest risk analysis before the end of 2018.

Next steps

The department aims to release the draft report in April 2018.

Stakeholders are invited to comment on the draft report during the 60 day consultation period.

The final report will be published after consideration of stakeholder comments.

How stakeholders can contribute

Stakeholders will be invited to comment on the draft report during the 60 day consultation period. The final report will then be published after consideration of stakeholder comments.

Tomato seed trade

Tomato fruit is one of the most important vegetable crops globally. The scale of production, trade and distribution of tomato fruit has greatly increased in recent years, and it is believed that tomato seed production and trade has similarly increased. 

Imports of tomato seed support Australian agriculture as most tomato crops in Australia are grown from imported seed, with almost all tomato breeding done overseas.

About two tonnes of tomato seed are imported into Australia annually, which are grown into hundreds of millions of tomato plants. Tomato fruit growers usually order seed from Australian representatives of international seed trading companies or from Australian businesses with links to these companies.

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