Harmoniz wins battle against ToBRFV
ToBRFV-resistance test at Harmoniz’s screening greenhouse in Sicily. Susceptible plant (left) and resistant plant (right) cultivated under the same growing conditions and strong virus pressure.
“Tomato growers in Spanish main growing areas were lucky enough to enjoy a delay in being impacted by the devastating disease of ToBRFV on their tomato production, as in other countries in Europe and other parts of the world” says Shai Leviatov, VP R&D at Harmoniz LTD. Harmoniz (via its legacy company TomaTech) targeted the research and development of genetic material resistant to ToBRFV as one of its top R&D goals back in 2015, benefitting from being located in Israel, the first region where ToBRFV disease was detected. In 2021, the Israeli seed company had already launched on the fresh tomato market a first comprehensive portfolio of commercial varieties resistant to the virus.
Dormaplum, ToBRFV-resistant premium mini-plum
“Soon as it was clear that the current genes in use to control Tobamovirus family viruses (Tm 2, Tm22 Tm2a) are not protecting the tomato plants from the new virus, the breeders realized they needed to create resistance from scratch by applying all the know-how acquired in the field of virology and molecular biology”.
“Since then, the company set out two main goals: first, to provide our customers with a short-term valuable solution to contain the disease and stay in business and second, to identify additional sources of resistance to the virus and to develop molecular markers to the resistant traits, which would, in turn, be introduced to elite breeding lines, thus becoming a constitutive part of the company’s germplasm for new resistant cultivars development.”
“The company’s R&D team began test thousands of tomato plants thanks to a dedicated Plant Virus Inoculation System (PVIS) developed for that purpose. In 2017, several ToBRFV-resistant varieties and genetic sources were identified and, a year later, the team developed a molecular marker for the trait and started bred for a first generation of commercially available ToBRFV resistant varieties. The first goal was achieved: to offer to growers plants that they can grow and yield that can be sold.
Today, Harmoniz’s ToBRFV resistant portfolio counts around 20 hybrids. From the red mini-plum Basoche, Dormaplum, Flor de Andalucía, to the midi plum Midres and the several color specialties such as Cantando, TT-768 or Tom Ruby, all these varieties were tested several times under control and severe inoculation condition. Under our testing conditions, these hybrids preserved the ability to produce high level of commercial quality yield, without showing symptoms of disease in the plant and fruit.
Korino, leader in TOV cherry segment in Spain
In parallel, we are advancing to reach our second goal. By applying advanced technologies, and intensive team dedication, we are close to offer to the grower’s resistant versions of the best varieties of Harmoniz’s known portfolio. The same varieties that were known for their yield, quality and adaptation to the growing condition with the security of certified ToBRFV resistance. For the Spanish market in particular, a resistant versions of market leaders like the cherry leader Korino, and other top-perfoming varieties – the large TOV Cosmostar and Constelación, the mini-plum Ultiplum, the plum Tucait will be soon launched to the market.
We are ever mindful that under specific circumstances and heavy pest pressure, any level of resistant plant may exhibit some symptoms or damage; however, we are extremely proud to offer our customers something we are sure of: commercially valid and profitable products whose durability has been tested and verified that, in synergy with the recommended good agricultural and phytosanitary practices, highly restrict the virus spread, representing a future-proof investment for fresh tomato growers.