Emerging Pest Alert

Update on a new phytoplasma disease of coniferous trees in Europe

Scientific Name: Candidatus Phytoplasma pini

Describer: Schneider et al.

Common Name: nan

Title: Update on a new phytoplasma disease of coniferous trees in Europe


Significance: Reports of a new phytoplasma ('Candidatus Phytoplasma pini') found in pines in Europe was first reported by Schneider et al. (2005). Infected Pinus sylvestris and P. halepensis in Germany and Spain, respectively, showed various disease symptoms, including yellow, dwarfed and sometimes twisted needles, and prolific branching / proliferation of small shoots (i.e. witches’ broom). Some plants were also shown to be symptomlessly infected.

Recently 'Candidatus Phytoplasma pini' has been found in other parts of Europe and in other coniferous plant species (see below).

Issues of Concern: Relatively little is known about the incidence, distribution, and potential significance of 'Candidatus Phytoplasma pini'. Research suggests that phytoplasmas may contribute to a complex of disease symptoms observed in confers in parts of Europe (and elsewhere), but their actual impact on growth and yield still remains largely undetermined (Kaminska et al., 2011). 

To date, 'Candidatus Phytoplasma pini' has not been reported from North America. Until its potential importance as a plant pathogen can be better characterized, it may be advisable to try and prevent its introduction into areas where it has not yet been reported.

Hosts: Abies procera, Picea pungens, Pinus banksiana, P. halepensis, P. mugo, P. nigra, P. sylvestris, P. tabuliformis, Tsuga canadensis (Kaminska & Berniak, 2011; Kaminska et al., 2011; Schneider et al., 2005).

Distribution: Czech Republic (Kaminska et al., 2011); Germany (Schneider et al., 2005); Poland (Kaminska et al., 2011; Sliwa et al., 2008); Spain (Schneider et al., 2005). The phytoplasma may be more widespread than current literature indicates. 


Kaminska, M., and H. Berniak, 2011. Detection and Identification of Three ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’ Species in Picea spp. Trees in Poland. Journal of Phytopathology Vol. 159 (Issue 11-12): 796–798.

Kaminska, M., H. Berniak and J. Obdrzalek, 2011. New natural host plants of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pini’ in Poland and the Czech Republic. Plant Pathology Vol. 60:1023–1029.

Schneider B, E. Torres, M.P. Martin, M. Schroder, H-D. Behnke and E. Seemuller, 2005. ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pini’, a novel taxon from Pinus silvestris and Pinus halepensis. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology Vol. 55:303-307.

Sliwa, H., M. Kaminka, S. Korszun and P. Adler. 2008. Detection of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pini’ in Pinus sylvestris trees in Poland. Journal of Phytopathology Vol. 156(2):88-92.