Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Monilia polystroma
(Asiatic brown rot)



Monilia polystroma (Asiatic brown rot)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Documented Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Monilia polystroma
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Asiatic brown rot
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Fungi
  •     Phylum: Ascomycota
  •       Subphylum: Pezizomycotina
  •         Class: Leotiomycetes
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • M. polystroma is the conidial form of an unknown apothecial ascomycete closely related to Monilinia fructigena, from which it has so far been distinguished by molecular means. Although M. fructigen...

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Monilia polystroma G.C.M. Leeuwen 2002

Preferred Common Name

  • Asiatic brown rot

International Common Names

  • English: Asiatic brown fruit rot; blossom blight; twig blight; twig canker

EPPO code

  • MONIPO (Monilinia polystroma)

Summary of Invasiveness

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M. polystroma is the conidial form of an unknown apothecial ascomycete closely related to Monilinia fructigena, from which it has so far been distinguished by molecular means. Although M. fructigena and the other brown-rot species, M. fructicola and M. laxa, are known on various continents, M. polystroma was identified in Japan and initially known only in that country. Recent published reports placed it in Hungary and China as well. This species may be widely distributed in Asia and perhaps Europe. In the absence of natural barriers, it will spread by means of airborne conidia. Long distance dispersal would most likely occur through infected planting stock or fruit. Therefore, M. polystroma is a regulated pest for Canada. Monilinia fructigena is a regulated pest for the USA. 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Fungi
  •         Phylum: Ascomycota
  •             Subphylum: Pezizomycotina
  •                 Class: Leotiomycetes
  •                     Subclass: Leotiomycetidae
  •                         Order: Helotiales
  •                             Family: Sclerotiniaceae
  •                                 Genus: Microsporum
  •                                     Species: Monilia polystroma

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The form genus Monilia includes species that are the conidial anamorphs of Monilinia.  The genus Monilinia, in the family Sclerotiniaceae (Helotiales, Ascomycota), is characterized by its conidial and stromatal anamorphs, apothecial ascomata and ascospores (Byrde and Willets, 1977). Consequently, M. polystroma would be expected to have a Monilinia sexual state.

Three closely related fungi, Monilinia fructicola, Monilinia fructigena and Monilinia laxa, cause economically-important diseases, e.g. blossom and twig blights, and brown fruit rot, of plants in fruit tree genera of the Rosaceae (e.g. Malus, Pyrus, Prunus). Some Monilinia species also attack ornamental, flowering fruit trees.

Monilinia fructigena is primarily found in the Eastern Hemisphere, particularly in temperate Europe and Asia, and coexists in many areas with M. laxa. M. fructicola and M.laxa, which produce similar disease symptoms and have common hosts, coexist in the Western Hemisphere, notably North America, and Australia. It is generally only in Central and Eastern Asia, where the host fruit trees originated, that all three species of Monilinia are found (Fulton et al., 1999).

Recent studies by van Leeuwen et al. (2002) compared six isolates of M. fructigena collected in Japan on apple, Malus pumila, with the same number of isolates collected in Europe on Malus and Prunus. A general comparison of morphology revealed that there were significant differences between isolates from the two regions in colony characteristics, stroma formation, growth rate, and conidial dimensions. Differences between the two groups had previously been demonstrated using the ITS region of ribosomal DNA (Fulton et al., 1999). These studies suggested that the Japanese isolates were distinct enough from the European M. fructigena to be considered a separate species. No sexual form was observed, so this species was named and described only in the asexual form as M. polystroma. It is likely that some Japanese specimens of the teleomorph, previously identified as M. fructigena, are the sexual form of the new species (van Leeuwen et al., 2002), but currently none has been identified as such.


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Colonies on potato dextrose agar (PDA) grow to 50-60 mm diameter after 6 days at 22°C under 12 h light/12 h dark cycle. Colony margin even, sporogenous tissue slightly elevated above the colony surface, 1-2 mm, buff/pale luteous. Stromatal initials forming 10-12 days after culture initiation; mature black stromatal plates at first discrete, later coalescing. Macroconidia globose, ovoid or limoniform, smooth, 12-21 x 8-12 µm, mean = 16.4 x 10.1 µm in distilled water when grown on cherry agar (CHA) at 22° under NUV; 11 x 20 x 8-11 µm, mean 14.9 x 9.1 µm, on pear fruit at 15°C. Thick hyphal layer of stroma on colonized fruit; conidial tufts buff to brownish-grey.

Additional details are found in van Leeuwen et al. (2002).


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M. polystroma was first identified as a distinct species composed of Japanese isolates previously identified as Monilinia fructigena (van Leeuwen et al., 2002). Petróczy and Palkovics (2009) have now reported it in Hungary. A DNA sequence from a Chinese isolate has been attributed to this species (NCBI, 2010). Isolates of Monilina fructigena from other areas of East Asia, including China, Korea and Russia, should be examined to determine whether some isolates belong to this newly described species (van Leeuwen et al., 2002).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ChinaPresentZhu and Guo, 2010; EPPO, 2014
-HeilongjiangPresent, few occurrencesZhu and Guo, 2010; CABI/EPPO, 2011; EPPO, 2014
JapanPresentvan Leeuwen et al., 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2011; EPPO, 2014
-HonshuPresentvan Leeuwen et al., 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2011


Czech RepublicPresentEPPO, 2011; EPPO, 2014EPPO Reporting Service No. 2011/134. Found in two localities, under surveillance.
HungaryPresent, few occurrencesPetróczy and Palkovics, 2009; CABI/EPPO, 2011; EPPO, 2014
ItalyPresentMartini et al., 2015via alert from PestLens newsletter.
PolandPresentEPPO, 2014
SerbiaPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014
SwitzerlandPresentKnorst et al., 2012a; Knorst et al., 2012b; Hilber-Bodmer et al., 2012; EPPO, 2014

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction of this species is presumably similar to that of brown-rot species of Monilinia. Where these already occur, M. polystroma may be the equivalent of a new strain, which may have a differing host range or different levels of virulence on the same hosts. Where no brown rot pathogen is present in a new fruit-growing area, the introduction of any of the brown rot fungi is a significant threat to pome and stone fruit production. Where no natural barriers to tree-to-tree spread exist in Europe and Asia, the likelihood of introduction of M. polystroma depends on its, yet undetermined, current distribution. On other continents, the possibility depends largely on the quality of the regulatory barriers against importation of infected tree propagating material and fruit.

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

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The type description by van Leeuwen et al. (2002) only dealt with isolates from apple (Malus pumila), and a recent discovery of the species in Hungary (Petróczy and Palkovics, 2009) was also on apple. Detailed studies on the potential host range of this species have not yet been conducted. However, according to previous work carried out on Japanese isolates, then identified as Monilinia fructigena (Harada, 1998), the fungus has a host range similar to M. fructigena in Europe, and is found on species of Cydonia, Malus, Prunus, and Pyrus.

Growth Stages

Top of page Fruiting stage, Post-harvest, Vegetative growing stage


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M. polystroma causes the same or very similar symptoms to those reported for Monilinia fructigena and, therefore, is likely to be associated with blossom, twig and leaf blights, stem cankers and brown fruit rots (Byrde and Willets, 1977). For further information on symptoms, refer to the datasheet on M. fructigena.


List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / abnormal shape
Fruit / extensive mould
Fruit / lesions: black or brown
Fruit / mummification
Growing point / dieback
Leaves / wilting
Leaves / yellowed or dead
Stems / canker on woody stem
Stems / dieback
Stems / gummosis or resinosis
Stems / internal discoloration
Whole plant / plant dead; dieback

Biology and Ecology

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Life Cycle

For background on the biology of a similar, more studied, species, refer to the datasheet on Moniliniafructigena. M. polystroma has so far only been observed as the conidium-producing anamorph. Like the Monilinia species that also have Monilia forms, it may persist over winter in mummified fruit and/or infected twigs and buds. Under favourable environmental conditions, the fungus will sporulate and conidia will be disseminated by wind to susceptible vegetative tissues and fruit. Secondary cycles of spread will occur as reported for other brown-rot pathogens (Byrde and Willets, 1977).

Previous work indicated biological similarity between Japanese and European isolates of M. fructigena, so presumably this remains true for M. polystroma and M. fructigena. For example, the teleomorph of M.fructigena is rarely seen and therefore the teleomorph likely plays little or no role in the life-cycle of M. polystroma (van Leeuwen et al., 2002). It would presumably develop in spring from mummified fruit on or in the soil.

Limited studies made by van Leeuwen et al. (2002) indicate that M. polystroma appears to be almost identical to M. fructigena. A comparison of lesion growth rate and sporulation on most of the inoculated pear and apple cultivars tested showed no significant differences between the two fungal species. However, some results indicate that M. polystroma may colonize fruits of some cultivars slightly faster than M. fructigena. In addition, the authors suggest that the abundant stromata formed by M. polystroma may enhance its survival by inhibiting decomposition of infected fruits, thus increasing the amount of primary inoculum produced in the next season over the level usually found with M. fructigena.


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Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Preferred Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Monilia conidia are primarily airborne, but may also be carried in rain splash.   

Vector Transmission

Insects or birds may carry the conidia nonspecifically on their bodies, but no observations of such transfer are published.

Accidental Introduction

As with Monilinia species (Byrde and Willets, 1977), M. polystroma will presumably be spread by transport of infected nursery stock plants and infected fruits.


Seedborne Aspects

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Fruit are not usually propagated from seed, therefore the likelihood that infected fruit may contain infected or infested seed will seldom be of relevance to the spread of the brown-rot fungi.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx hyphae; spores Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Fruits (inc. pods) hyphae; sclerotia; spores Yes Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Leaves hyphae; spores Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches hyphae; spores Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Growing medium accompanying plants
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
True seeds (inc. grain)

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative


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Impacts are presumed to be the same or very similar to those of Monilinia fructigena. See the datasheet on M. fructigena for details.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Host damage
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
Impact mechanisms
  • Pathogenic
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control


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M. polystroma cannot be distinguished with certainty from the other brown-rot fungi except by laboratory examination.

In the past, identification of the three more widespread brown-rot species, Moniliniafructicola, Monilinia fructigena and Monilinia laxa, was primarily based on morphological and cultural growth characteristics on artificial media (Byrde and Willets, 1977). More recently, the species have also been differentiated based on sequence divergence within the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the ribosomal DNA (rDNA). In this regard, comparisons of a large number of M. fructigena isolates in Europe and Japan demonstrated that isolates from Japan had four base substitutions in ITS 1 and one substitution in the ITS 2 region, when compared to the European isolates (Fulton et al., 1999).

Another study comparing the sequences of random amplified polymorphic DNA fragments from Monilinia fructigena and M. polystroma confirmed the close relationship between the two species. However, RAPD patterns were also sufficiently different to allow the two species to be distinguished using a multiplex PCR technique (Côté et al., 2004). This technique identified species in infected fruit as well as from pure culture.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Descriptions of Monilinia fructigena, Monilinia laxa, and Monilinia fructicola should be compared in order to identify the most consistent morphological distinctions between their Monilia conidial forms and M. polystroma. An EPPO diagnostic protocol for M.fructicola (EPPO, 2003) includes a table of comparisons. The Japanese isolates identified as M. polystroma produced more stromata on cherry agar, had a significantly higher mean growth rate on PDA, and produced generally smaller conidia on both cherry agar and inoculated pear fruit than did isolates of M. fructigena (van Leeuwen et al., 2002).

Prevention and Control

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SPS measures

Regulations about importation of fruit tree propagating material, such as those in Canada (CFIA, 2006), should prevent introduction of the pathogen across natural barriers to spread. The brown-rot fungi are Regulated Pests for the USA as well (Cline and Farr, 2006).


Given the similarities to Monilinia fructigena, information on control of that pathogen is likely to apply to M. polystroma.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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The teleomorph for this species, whether it can be found fresh in nature or among Japanese specimens identified as M. fructigena, remains to be described.

The current distribution of M. polystroma, which is probably more widespread in Asia and has now been found in eastern Europe, is unknown. Likewise, the host range, although likely similar to that of the other brown-rot fungi, is undetermined. The virulence of M. polystroma on varieties grown in countries where it is present or those to which it is likely to spread due to the absence of natural barriers, is information important to establishing its possible impact and control. 


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Byrde RJW; Willetts HJ, 1977. The Brown Rot Fungi of Fruit. Their Biology and Control. Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press, 171 pp.

CABI/EPPO, 2011. Monilia polystroma. [Distribution map]. Distribution Maps of Plant Diseases, No.April. Wallingford, UK: CABI, Map 1103 (Edition 1).

CFIA, 2006. D-02-02. Plant Protection Import Requirements for rooted, or unrooted plants, plant parts, and plants in vitro for planting. D-02-02. Plant Protection Import Requirements for rooted, or unrooted plants, plant parts, and plants in vitro for planting. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Cline ET; Farr DF, 2006. Synopsis of fungi listed as regulated plant pests by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: notes on nomenclature, disease, plant hosts, and geographic distribution. Plant Health Progress, May:1-44.

Côté MJ; Tardif MC; Meldrum AJ, 2004. Identification of Monilinia fructigena, M. fructicola, M. laxa, and Monilia polystroma on inoculated and naturally infected fruit using multiplex PCR. Plant Disease, 88:1219-1225.

EPPO, 2003. Diagnostic protocols for regulated pests. Monilinia fructicola. Bulletin OEPP/EPPO Bulletin, 33. 281-288.

EPPO, 2004. PQR EPPO plant quarantine information retrieval system. Version 4.3. Paris, France: EPPO.

EPPO, 2011. EPPO Reporting Service. EPPO Reporting Service. Paris, France: EPPO.

EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization.

Fulton CE; Leeuwen GCMvan; Brown AE, 1999. Genetic variation among and within Monilinia species causing brown rot of stone and pome fruits. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 105(5):495-500; 16 ref.

Harada Y, 1998. Taxonomic studies on plant parasitic fungi on fruit trees and forest trees in Japan. Nippon Kingakukai Kaiho, 39(3):89-96; 47 ref.

Hilber-Bodmer M; Knorst V; Smits THM; Patocchi A, 2012. First report of Asian brown rot caused by Monilia polystroma on apricot in Switzerland. Plant Disease, 96(1):146.

Knorst V; Hilber-Bodmer M; Patocchi A, 2012. First appearance of Monilia polystroma in Switzerland in an orchard of stone fruit. (Premiere apparition de Monilia polystroma en Suisse dans un verger de fruits à noyau.) Revue Suisse de Viticulture, Arboriculture et Horticulture, 44(3):201-202.

Knorst V; Hilber-Bodmer M; Patocchi A, 2012. Occurrence of Monilia polystroma in a Swiss stone fruit plant. (Auftreten von Monilia polystroma in einer Schweizer Steinobstanlage.) Obst- und Weinbau, 148(13):14-15.

Leeuwen GCMvan; Baayen RP; Holb IJ; Jeger MJ, 2002. Distinction of the Asiatic brown rot fungus Monilia polystroma sp. nov. from M. fructigena. Mycological Research, 106(4):444-451; 24 ref.

Martini C; Francesco Adi; Lantos A; Mari M, 2015. First report of Asiatic brown rot (Monilinia polystroma) and brown rot (Monilinia fructicola) on pears in Italy. Plant Disease, 99(4):556.

NCBI, 2010. Entrez cross-database search engine. Entrez cross-database search engine. Bethesda, Maryland, USA: National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, unpaginated.

Petróczy M; Palkovics L, 2009. First report of Monilia polystroma on apple in Hungary. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 125(2):343-347.

Zhu XQ; Guo LY, 2010. First report of brown rot on plum caused by Monilia polystroma in China. Plant Disease, 94(4):478.

Links to Websites

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National Agricultural Pest Information System - Pest Tracker


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02/04/10 Updated by:

Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory, USDA-ARS, 10300 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705, USA

Distribution Maps

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