I'm interested in planting a tobacco plant in my home garden from seed. I've heard of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) and how it can spread from the fingers of someone who has handled tobacco or from insects between infected plants.
I'd like to know if planting a tobacco plant in my yard would put any of my other plants at risk of getting TMV? Is it transmitted from a live tobacco plant to others? Or does the virus come from cured tobacco, like smoking a cigarette and then not washing your hands before handling other plants? I can't seem to find any information online about this specifically.
Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) has a very wide host range, but I have not heard of it as being seed transmitted.
This virus is mechanically transmitted by these steps:
- The virus first needs to get on your hands or a gardening tool from an infected plant or plant part.
- Next, your hand or tool needs to wound the epidermis of a healthy plant. That is how it gets introduced into the healthy plant.
- After infecting the plant, the virus continues to replicate.
These viruses can survive a long time in dried plant material, so in theory, you could get it from smoking a cigarette with infected tobacco material. It could be a way to infect a healthy plant. Washing your hands will kill TMV, just like any of the human viruses.
That all said, much of the tobacco industry has eliminated TMV from production sites. You are not likely to spread it from smoking a cigarette these days. The risk is rather low.
Bottom line, don't worry and try growing the plant, maybe try a few, and see how they do. Good luck.
Here is additional information on TMV: