Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), named for the plant it was first discovered in, can infect hundreds of different species. It has no known invertebrate vectors, but TMV is spread mechanically through contact with other plants, clothes, tools, contaminated soil and seed borne. While TMV is known to be exceptionally stable, it has been reported that treatment of tools with powdered milk can significantly reduce the infection rate of the virus. While there is a seed treatment available for conventional agriculture, there is no seed treatment available for organic production. Organic growers, who grow heirloom tomatoes experience the highest rates of TMV infection. Since powdered milk has been reported as an effective means of treatment in tools, the purpose of this research is to determine whether it can be an effective seed treatment. To test this, tomato seeds were treated with powdered milk, soy milk, almond milk and water. A grow out test was then conducted in a greenhouse and plants were tested for infection using Polymerase Chain Reaction and antibody based ELISA testing. In the first grow out trial treatment little effect was seen, with infection rate for the powdered milk, almond milk, soy milk and control treatments were 60%, 34%, 32% and 47%, respectively. The seed treatment may have been ineffective because we did not add a surfactant and additional research is in progress to test this hypothesis.
Robison, Tanner A., "Effectiveness of Seed Treatments in Reducing TMV Infection" (2016). Biology Posters. Paper 113.