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Extension > Garden > Commercial fruit and vegetable production > Plant diseases > Tomato mosaic virus and tobacco mosaic virus

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Tomato mosaic virus and tobacco mosaic virus

Anna Johnson, Michelle Grabowski and Angela Orshinsky


Tomato mosaic virus (ToMV) can cause yellowing and stunting of tomato plants, resulting in loss of stand and reduced yield. In addition, the virus may cause uneven ripening of fruit, further reducing yield. Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) was once thought to be more common on tomato, but the two viruses are hard to distinguish easily and tobacco mosaic virus is usually (though not exclusively) more of a tobacco pathogen than a tomato pathogen.

M.Grabowski, UMN Extension

Tobacco Mosaic virus symptoms on a tomato seedling.

Host and pathogen

ToMV infects tomato most commonly, but the virus can also infect pepper, potato, apple, pear, cherry, and numerous weeds, including pigweed and lamb's quarters. Symptoms may differ on different hosts. TMV has a very wide host range, affecting numerous crops, ornamentals and weeds including cucumber, lettuce, beet, pepper, tomato, petunia, jimson weed, and horsenettle.


Signs and symptoms


M.Grabowski, UMN Extension

Green and yellow mosaic pattern on leaf infected with TMV.

Biology and disease cycle

Tomato mosaic virus and tobacco mosaic virus can exist for 2 years in dry soil or leaf debris, but will only persist 1 month if soil is moist. The viruses can also survive in infected root debris in the soil for up to two years. Seed can be infected and pass the virus to the plant but the disease is usually introduced and spread primarily through human activity. The virus can easily spread between plants on workers' hands, tools, and clothes with normal activities such as plant tying, removing of suckers, and harvest. The virus can even survive the tobacco curing process, and can spread from cigarettes and other tobacco products to plant material handled by workers after a cigarette. Proper hand washing and sterilization of tools and equipment is essential to preventing spread this disease. Once inside a plant, the virus multiplies resulting in the symptoms described above.


Resistant varieties

There are numerous tomato varieties that are resistant to one or the other of the viruses. These are usually denoted in seed catalogs, often with the code ToMV after the variety name if resistant to tomato mosaic virus and TMV if resistant to tobacco mosaic virus. There are only a few varieties that are resistant to both viruses. Several popular rootstocks for grafted tomatoes can also confer resistance to varieties that may not normally be resistant.

Table 1: Tomato varieties resistant to ToMV and TMV

ToMV Resistant TMV Resistant Resistant to both Resistant Rootstock
Bolseno Big Beef BHN-444 Estamino (ToMV)
Tomimaru Muchoo Celebrity Health Kick DRO138TX (ToMV)
Pink Wonder BHN-871 Sophya Colossus (TMV)
Beorange Clermont Talladega Maxifort (TMV)
Pozzano Geronimo SuperNatural (TMV)
Sunpeach Sungold RST-04-105-T (TMV)

A more extensive list of resistant tomato varieties can be found at Cornell University's Vegetable MD Online webpage.

Cultural control

Chemical control

There are currently no chemical options that are effective against either virus.


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