Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Candidatus Phytoplasma rubi
(witches'-broom phytoplasma disease)



Candidatus Phytoplasma rubi (witches'-broom phytoplasma disease)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Candidatus Phytoplasma rubi
  • Preferred Common Name
  • witches'-broom phytoplasma disease
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Bacteria
  •   Phylum: Firmicutes
  •     Class: Mollicutes
  •       Order: Acholeplasmatales
  •         Family: Acholeplasmataceae

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Symptoms of rubus stunt in natutrally infected Rubus caesius.
TitleStunt symptoms
CaptionSymptoms of rubus stunt in natutrally infected Rubus caesius.
CopyrightC. Marcone
Symptoms of rubus stunt in natutrally infected Rubus caesius.
Stunt symptomsSymptoms of rubus stunt in natutrally infected Rubus caesius.C. Marcone


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Candidatus Phytoplasma rubi

Preferred Common Name

  • witches'-broom phytoplasma disease

Other Scientific Names

  • Phytoplasma rubi
  • Rubus stunt phytoplasma Seemüller et al., 1998

International Common Names

  • English: Rubus stunt (RUS); RUS

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Rubusverzwergung
  • Italy: scopazzi del rovo

EPPO code

  • PHYP67 (Rubus stunt phytoplasma)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Bacteria
  •     Phylum: Firmicutes
  •         Class: Mollicutes
  •             Order: Acholeplasmatales
  •                 Family: Acholeplasmataceae
  •                     Genus: Phytoplasma
  •                         Species: Candidatus Phytoplasma rubi

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


IsraelAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014

North America

USAAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014


BulgariaPresentTrifonov, 1961; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
DenmarkWidespreadvan der Meer, 1987; Reitzel, 1971; Thomsen, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
FrancePresentJarausch et al., 2001; Arnaud et al., 2007
GermanyWidespreadMõurer & Seemüller, 1994; Richter, 1963; Heintz, 1986; McCoy et al., 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
HungaryPresentJensen et al., 1981
ItalyWidespreadRagozzino et al., 1977; Lee et al., 1995; Marcone et al., 1997; CABI/EPPO, 2001; Marcone, 2002; Arnaud et al., 2007; Marcone, 2011; EPPO, 2014
NetherlandsWidespreadde Fluiter & van der Meer, 1953; de Fluiter & van der Meer, 1958; van der Meer, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
NorwayPresentvan der Meer, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
PortugalPresentParente et al., 1999; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
Russian FederationRestricted distributionvan der Meer, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-Central RussiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
SlovakiaPresentPaulechova, 1978; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
SwitzerlandPresentCazelles, 1976; Marcone et al., 1998; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
UKWidespreadMurant and Roberts, 1971; Davies, 2000; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / abnormal shape
Fruit / reduced size
Growing point / dieback
Growing point / discoloration
Growing point / distortion
Inflorescence / abnormal leaves (phyllody)
Inflorescence / discoloration (non-graminaceous plants)
Inflorescence / distortion (non-graminaceous plants)
Leaves / abnormal colours
Leaves / abnormal forms
Leaves / leaves rolled or folded
Leaves / yellowed or dead
Roots / hairy root
Stems / dieback
Stems / distortion
Stems / stunting or rosetting
Stems / witches broom
Whole plant / distortion; rosetting
Whole plant / dwarfing
Whole plant / early senescence
Whole plant / elongation
Whole plant / plant dead; dieback
Whole plant / uprooted or toppled

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Breeding and propagation Yes Yes
Crop production Yes Yes
Nursery trade Yes Yes
People sharing resources Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Germplasm Yes Yes
Host and vector organisms Yes Yes
Plants or parts of plants Yes Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Leaves Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Roots Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Fruits (inc. pods)
Growing medium accompanying plants
True seeds (inc. grain)

Vectors and Intermediate Hosts

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Macropsis fusculaFluiter and Meer, 1953. InsectEurope

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Negatively impacts animal/plant collections
  • Damages animal/plant products
Impact mechanisms
  • Parasitism (incl. parasitoid)
  • Pathogenic
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control


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Ahrens U; Seemuller E, 1992. Detection of DNA of plant pathogenic mycoplasmalike organisms by a polymerase chain reaction that amplifies a sequence of the 16S rRNA gene. Phytopathology, 82(8):828-832

Arnaud G; Malembic-Maher S; Salar P; Bonnet P; Maixner M; Marcone C; Boudon-Padieu E; Foissac X, 2007. Multilocus sequence typing confirms the close genetic interrelatedness of three distinct flavescence dorée phytoplasma strain clusters and group 16SrV phytoplasmas infecting grapevine and alder in Europe. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 73(12):4001-4010.

Bertaccini A; Vibio M; Gennari F; Guerrini S; Benni A; Lee IM, 1995. Detection of mycoplasma like organisms (phytoplasmas) in Rubus by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Acta Horticulturae, No. 385:126-131; 10 ref.

Boudon-Padieu E; Cousin M-T; Daire X; Roux J, 1996. Molecular and serological characterization of phytoplasma isolates inducing tomato stolbur symptoms in tomato. IOM letters, 4:167-168.

CABI/EPPO, 2001. Rubus stunt phytoplasma. Distribution Maps of Plant Diseases, Map No. 831. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

Cazelles O, 1976. A proliferation disease of blackberry. Revue Suisse de Viticulture Arboriculture Horticulture, 8(3):131

Converse RH; Clarke RG; Oman PW Sr; Milbrath GM, 1982. Witches' broom disease of black raspberry in Oregon. Plant Disease, 66(10):949-951

Daire X; Clair D; Larrue J; Boudon-Padieu E; Alma A; Arzone A; Carraro L; Osler R; Refatti E; Granata G; Credi R; Tanne E; Pearson R; Caudwell A, 1993. Occurrence of diverse MLOs in tissues of grapevine affected by grapevine yellows in different countries. Vitis, 32(4):247-248

Davies DL, 2000. The occurence of two phytoplasmas associated with stunted Rubus species in the UK. Plant Pathology, 49:86-88.

Ellis MA; Converse RH; Williams RN; Williamson B, 1991. Compendium of raspberry and blackberry diseases and insects. St. Paul, Minnesota, USA; American Phytopathological Society, vi + 100pp.

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

Fernández EGB; Calari A; Hanzer V; Katinger H; Bertaccini A; Laimer M, 2007. Phytoplasma infected plants in Austrian forests: role as a reservoir? Bulletin of Insectology [First international phytoplasmologist working group meeting, Bologna, Italy, 12-15 November 2007.], 60(2):391-392.

Fluiter HJ de; FA van der Meer, 1958. The biology and control of Macropsis fuscula Zett., the vector of Rubus stunt virus. Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress of Entomology, (3):341-346.

Fluiter HJ de; Meer FA van der, 1953. Rubus stunt, a leafhopper-borne virus disease. Tijdschrift over Planteziekten, 59:195-197.

Heintz W, 1986. Cuscuta odorata an effective vector for mycoplasma-like organisms (MLO). Nachrichtenblatt des Deutschen Pflanzenschutzdienstes, 38(9):138-141

Hirumi H; Maramorosch K, 1973. Ultrastructure of the aster yellows agent mycoplasma-like bodies in sieve tube elements of Nicotiana rustica. In: Maramorosch K, ed. Mycoplasma and mycoplasma-like agents of human, animal and plant diseases. Annals of New York Academy of Science, 225:201-222.

Jarausch W; Jarausch-Wehrheim B; Danet JL; Broquaire JM; Dosba F; Saillard C; Garnier M, 2001. Detection and identification of European stone fruit yellows and other phytoplasmas in wild plants in the surroundings of apricot chlorotic leaf roll-affected orchards in southern France. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 107(2):209-217; 30 ref.

Jenser G; Hegab AM; Dezsery M, 1981. Philpnus spumarius Linne as a vector of the causative pathogen of rubus stunt disease. Acta Phytopathologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricp, 16(1/2):233-237

Jung HeeYoung; Sawayanagi T; Kakizawa S; Nishigawa H; Wei Wei; Oshima K; Miyata S; Ugaki M; Hibi T; Namba S, 2003. 'Candidatus Phytoplasma ziziphi', a novel phytoplasma taxon associated with jujube witches'-broom disease. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 53(4):1037-1041.

Klein M; Zelcer A; Fleisher Z; Loebenstein G, 1976. Mycoplasmalike organisms associated with witches' broom disease of Rubus sanguineus. Hassadeh, 56:1103-1104 (in Hebrew).

Lee IM; Bertaccini A; Vibio M; Gundersen DE; Davis RE; Mittempergher L; Conti M; Gennari F, 1995. Detection and characterization of phytoplasmas associated with diseases in Ulmus and Rubus in northern and central Italy. Phytopathologia Mediterranea, 34(3):174-183; 25 ref.

Lee IM; Martini M; Marcone C; Zhu SF, 2004. Classification of phytoplasma strains in the elm yellows group (16SrV) and proposal of ’Candidatus Phytoplasma ulmi’ for the phytoplasma associated with elm yellows. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 54:337-347.

Lee IngMing; Gundersen-Rindal DE; Davis RE; Bartoszyk IM, 1998. Revised classification scheme of phytoplasmas based on RFLP analyses of 16S rRNA and ribosomal protein gene sequences. International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, 48(4):1153-1169; 145 ref.

Lehman W, 1973. Euscelis plebejus (Fallén) und Macrosteles cristatus Ribaut als FbertrSger von Pflanzenkrankheiten von vermuteter Mykoplasma--tiologie. Archiv für phytopathologie und Pflanzenschutz, 9:363-370.

Malembic-Maher S; Salar P; Filippin L; Carle P; Angelini E; Foissac X, 2011. Genetic diversity of European phytoplasmas of the 16SrV taxonomic group and proposal of 'Candidatus Phytoplasma rubi'. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 61(9):2129-2134.

Marani F; Pisi A; Bertaccini A, 1977. The association of mycoplasma-like bodies with Rubus stunt disease. Phytopathologia Mediterranea, 16(2/3):150-153

Marcone C, 2002. Phytoplasmoses of forest plants, shrubs and woody ornamental in Europe. (Fitoplasmosi di piante forestali, arbustive ed ornamentali legnose in Europa.) Petria, 12(3):381-386.

Marcone C, 2011. Current status of phytoplasma diseases of medicinal and nutraceutical plants in Southern Italy. Bulletin of Insectology [Second International Phytoplasmologist Working Group Meeting. Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Germany, September 12-15, 2011.], 64(Supplement):S233-S234.

Marcone C; Hergenhahn F; Ragozzino A; Seemnller E, 1999. Dodder transmission of pear decline, European stone fruit yellows, Rubus stunt, Picris echioides yellows and cotton phyllody phytoplasmas to periwinkle. Journal of Phytopathology, 147(3):187-192; 25 ref.

Marcone C; Lee IM; Davis RE; Ragozzino A; Seemnller E, 2000. Classification of aster yellows-group phytoplasmas based on combined analyses of rRNA and tuf gene sequences. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 50(5):1703-1713; 41 ref.

Marcone C; Ragozzino A, 1996. Comparative ultrastructural studies on genetically different phytoplasmas using scanning electron microscopy. Petria, 6(2):125-136; 30 ref.

Marcone C; Ragozzino A; Firrao G; Locci R, 1994. Detection of a Rubus stunt isolate and characterization by RFLP analysis. Rivista di Patologia Vegetale, 4(2):47-58

Marcone C; Ragozzino A; Seemüller A, 1998. Detection and genetic characterization of phytoplasmas in forest trees, landscape trees, and shrubs by direct and nested PCR assays. In: Manceau C, Spak J, eds. COST 823 - New technologies to improve phytodiagnosis. Advances in the detection of plant pathogens by polymerase chain reaction. Luxembourg, Germany: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 67-80.

Marcone C; Ragozzino A; Seemüller E, 1997. Identification and characterization of the phytoplasma associated with elm yellows in southern Italy and its relatedness to other phytoplasmas of the elm yellows group. European Journal of Forest Pathology, 27:45-54.

McCoy RE; Caudwell A; Chang CJ; Chen TA; Chiykowski LN; Cousin MT; Dale JL; de Leeuw GTN; Golino DA; Hackett KJ; Kirkpatrick BC; Marwitz R; Petzold H; Sinha RC; Sugiura M; Whitcomb RF; Yang IL; Zhu BM; Seemnller E, 1989. Plant diseases associated with mycoplasma-like organisms. In: Whitcomb RF, Tully, eds. The Mycoplasmas, Vol. V. San Diego, USA: Academic Press, 545-640.

Meer van der, 1987. Rubus stunt. In: Converse RH, ed. Virus Diseases of Small Fruits. Washington, DC, USA: United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Handbook No. 631, 197-203.

MSurer M; Seemüller E, 1994. Nature and genetic relatedness of the mycoplasma-like organism causing rubus stunt in Europe. Plant Pathology, 44:244-249.

Murant AF; Roberts IM, 1971. Mycoplasma-like bodies associated with Rubus stunt disease. Annals of Applied Biology, 67:389-393.

Parente AM; Abreu I; Salema R, 1999. Immunodetection of phytoplasmas in wild blackberry in northern Portugal. Zeitschrift fu^umlaut~r Pflanzenkrankheiten und Pflanzenschutz, 106(6):618-623; 12 ref.

Paulechova K, 1978. Distribution of virus and mycoplasma-like diseases of some trees of the family Rosaceae in Eastern Slovakia. Acta Botanica Slovaca Academiae Scientiarum Slovacp, A4, 345-352

Pollini CP; Giunchedi L; Bissani R, 1997. Immunoenzymatic detection of PCR products for the identification of phytoplasmas in plants. Journal of Phytopathology, 145(8/9):371-374; 14 ref.

Quaroni S; Saracchi M; Tornaghi R; Faoro F, 1990. A comparative scanning and transmission electron microscope study for the detection of mycoplasma-like organisms. Rivista di Patologia Vegetale, 26(2-3):79-84

Ragozzino A; Angelaccio C; Stefanis D, 1977. Some mycoplasma diseases found in Campania. Annali della Facolta di Scienze Agrarie dell'Universita di Napoli in Portici, IV, 11:1-10

Reeder R; Kelly PL; Arocha Y, 2010. 'Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris' identified in blackberry (Rubus fruticosus agg.) in the United Kingdom. Plant Pathology, 59(2):394.

Reitzel J, 1971. The leafhopper Macropsis fuscula (Zett.) in raspberry plantings. Tidsskrift for Planteavl, 75:577-580

Richter J, 1963. Die Verzwergungskrankheit der Rubus-Arten (Rubus-Stauche). Nachrichtenblatt für den Deutschen Pflanzenschutzdienst, Berlin, 17:170-173.

Seemnller E; Marcone C; Lauer U; Ragozzino A; G÷schl M, 1998. Current status of molecular classification of the phytoplasmas. Journal of Plant Pathology, 80:3-26.

Sfalanga A; Martini M; Surico G; Bertaccini A, 2002. Involvement of phytoplasmas in a decline of Ulmus chenmoui in Central Italy. Forest Pathology, 32(4/5):265-275; 30 ref.

The IRPCM Phytoplasma/Spiroplasma Working Team - Phytoplasma taxonomy group, 2004. 'Candidatus Phytoplasma', a taxon for the wall-less non-helical prokaryotes that colonize plant phloem and insects. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 54:1243-1255.

Thomsen A, 1972. Rubus stunt. Tidsskrift for Planteavl, 76:289-296.

Trifonov D, 1961. Malinov snop. Ovoshtarstvo, 8:25-26.

Weintraub PG; Beanland L, 2006. Insect vectors of phytoplasmas. Annual Review of Entomology, 51:91-111.

Distribution Maps

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