According to research conducted by Groen Agro Control in its laboratory, disinfecting drain water with ozone is highly effective in eliminating the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV). This news is encouraging for tomato growers and plant breeders as they can now use this disinfection technique to remove a potential source of the virus and safely reuse their drain water after disinfection.

The Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) is a tobamovirus that can lead to severe symptoms in tomato plants. The virus has the potential to spread via both mechanical means (such as through people and tools) and through contaminated drain water in tomato crops. Hence, during the purification process of recirculating drain water, it is crucial to ensure the elimination of ToBRFV.

Agrozone, a company specializing in ozone installations for horticulture and industry, commissioned Groen Agro Control based in Delfgauw, the Netherlands, to investigate the survivability of ToBRFV in drain water following treatment with ozone.

Experiment

Agrozone and Groen Agro Control designed the test to mimic real-life scenarios, using standard settings that reflect the functioning of Agrozone’s ozone installations. The practical test involved using the disinfected water to inoculate five tomato seedlings. In addition, a positive control was conducted using non-disinfected drain water that contained the virus. Both treatments were replicated twice.

Two weeks later, samples were taken from the uninoculated leaves in the plant’s canopy and subjected to an ELISA test to determine the presence of ToBRFV.

Report

In the series that used untreated drain water (positive control), ToBRFV infection was identified in four out of the five inoculated plants in both replications. However, in both repetitions of the ozone-treated drain water, none of the five inoculated plants showed signs of infection, indicating the absence of virulent virus in the treated water. In other words, the ozone treatment successfully eradicated the virus.

Roy Imming, representative of Agrozone, states that ozone treatment is the first proven method of disinfection against ToBRFV. “This is one of ozone’s many advantages, as no virus can survive it. It’s reassuring to see that an accredited lab has officially confirmed this, which is great news for growers. Furthermore, our installations can be directly linked to the virus’s eradication, and the settings can be adjusted and monitored remotely to detect any abnormalities or risks early on. If the virus contaminates the drain water from a local source, ozone technology can be used to safely disinfect and reuse the water.”