The tomato leafminer has become a global disease in the cultivation of tomatoes, the most cultivated vegetable in the world and the one with the greatest economic value. In the last ten years alone, this pest has gone from affecting 3% of tomato crops worldwide to 60%, an area of 2.8 million hectares. This pest has become more resistant due to the improper handling of phytosanitary products.
This was one of the topics discussed in the “Phytosanity in tomato cultivation: from current risks to new threats” International Meeting, held on December 11 and 12 in Aguilas, Murcia, which was attended by 500 Plant health professionals interested in knowing the most effective management strategies against pests and diseases that affect this vegetable.
Another important pest, not present in the Mediterranean basin although listed as a priority by the European Commission, is the potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli, which mainly affects tomato and pepper greenhouses in regions of North America. This pest can only be controlled by using Phytochemicals and a combination of different isolation and physical control strategies in greenhouses, as well as releasing beneficial insects.
In Spain, one of the main phytosanitary problems in tomato cultivation is the tomato mite (vasates). The lack of effective biological control systems and the reduction in the number of phytosanitary products authorized to control it means that producers must conduct a mixed strategy that optimizes the use of available products and with good agronomic practices to control it, stated Josep Izquierdo, horticultural manager from Bayer CropScience. Likewise, Spanish producers must also control Meloidogyne species, i.e. nematodes that affect the functionality of tomato roots the most.
One of the most anticipated conferences, after the recent detection in Almeria of the tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV), was the conference of Salvatore Walter Davino, head of the Virology Laboratory of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forest Sciences of the University of Palermo, who spoke about the incidence that this virus had in Sicily, one of the most important tomato production areas in the Mediterranean basin. "Currently, its expansion can only be contained with two tools to reduce the introduction and subsequent spread of ToBRFV: early diagnosis and the implementation of preventive measures in crop management," he stated.
Vicente Pallás, from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Plants (IBMCP), presented the contributions of molecular hybridization to the polyvalent detection of viruses that affect tomatoes and the application of CRISPR-Cas genomic editing technology to control these pathogens, which "is allowing the development of control strategies for tomato virosis that avoid the application of transgenesis."