Will growing tobacco put my garden plants at risk?

A:

This virus is mechanically transmitted. What does that mean? Well, the virus first needs to get on your hands or on a knife or anything else. It does have to come from an infected plant or plant part. Touching the infected plant or cutting it for propagation etc. will pick up the virus. Then your hand or the knife needs to wound the epidermis of a healthy plant. That is how it gets introduced into the healthy plant. From there the virus replicates and off it goes. I have not heard of tobacco mosaic virus as being seed transmitted. It does have a very wide host range.

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 it off just like any of the human viruses we have been talking about for a few months now!

That all said, you have to realize much of the tobacco industry has eliminated tobacco mosaic virus from production sites. You are not likely to spread it from smoking a cigarette these days. The risk is not zero but rather low.

Bottom line, don't worry and try growing the plant, maybe try a few, and see how they do. Good luck.

And here is an information site that might be helpful: Tobacco mosaic virus information from the American Phytopathological Society.

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