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

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, August 2018

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

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Key facts

  • The department released the draft pest risk analysis for Pepino mosaic virus and pospiviroids associated with tomato seed on 8 August 2018.
  • Stakeholders can submit comments on the draft report during a 60 calendar day public consultation period, closing 8 October 2018.
  • The final report will be published after consideration of comments on the draft report. The department expects to publish the report in early 2019.

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 increased considerably in recent years.

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

Tomato fruit growers usually order seed from Australian representatives of international seed trading companies or from Australian businesses with links to international seed trading companies. On average 760 kilograms of tomato seed is imported into Australia annually, which is grown into more than 200 million tomato plants.

Rationale for the risk analysis

This pest risk analysis was initiated in response to the introduction of emergency measures to manage the risks posed by Pepino mosaic virus (PepMV) and pospiviroids associated with tomato seed imports. Six pospiviroids are managed under the emergency measures: 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).

The emergency measures on tomato seed imports were introduced in 2008 in response to incursions of PSTVd in Australia. The emergency measures were amended in 2012 to implement mandatory testing and to also target PepMV and the five other viroids, which are transmitted through tomato seeds.

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

PSTVd is not assessed in this pest risk analysis because it is not considered to be a quarantine pest. The department will evaluate the status and impacts of PSTVd separately, and the emergency measures requiring testing for PSTVd will be maintained while this evaluation is underway.

Progress of the risk analysis

The draft report proposes that tomato seed (Solanum lycopersicum) and hybrids of this species, imported for sowing should be subject to the following measures:

  • the standard import conditions for seeds for sowing, and
  • mandatory testing for PepMV, CLVd, PCFVd, TASVd, TCDVd and TPMVd:
    • the laboratory testing requirements established under the emergency measures will remain in place, except for some amendments as outlined in the draft report,
    • samples of 20,000 seeds will be tested from lots that weigh more than 300g, and samples of one fifth (20%) of the lot will be tested from lots that weigh 300g or less;

OR

  • standard import conditions for seeds for sowing, and
  • mandatory testing for CLVd, PCFVd, TASVd, TCDVd and TPMVd, and
  • dry heat treatment at 80oC for 72 hours to eliminate PepMV.

How stakeholders can contribute

Stakeholders are invited to comment on the draft report during the 60 calendar day public consultation period, which closes on 8 October 2018. Stakeholders can make their submission via the department’s website.

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

Further information

The department will share information and answer questions relating to this review at any time during the process. New scientific information will also be considered at any time. Further information on the review can be found at Pepino mosaic virus and pospiviroids in tomato seed or by contacting the department.

Subscribe for updates

Stakeholders interested in receiving further updates on biosecurity risk analyses are invited to subscribe via the department’s new online subscription service.