EPPO Platform
on PRAs

Pest categorisation of Witches' broom disease of lime (Citrus aurantifolia) phytoplasma


The EFSA Panel on Plant Health performed a pest categorisation for the Witches' broom disease of lime (Citrus aurantifolia) phytoplasma for the EU territory. The pest has been reported in a few countries in the Middle East and is not known to occur in the EU. The disease is caused by a well-defined phytoplasma strain in the ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia' species, for which efficient molecular detection assays are available. The most important known natural host is Citrus aurantifolia, which is only grown for ornamental purposes in the EU. Sweet limes, rough lemon and trifoliate orange are also naturally infected by that phytoplasma. The latter can be transmitted by grafting also to some citrus species. Other citrus species were reported to be resistant; however, their susceptibility has been assessed only by symptom observations, and the possible presence of phytoplasmas in symptomless plants cannot be ruled out. The phytoplasma is transmitted by the leafhopper Hishimonus phycitis, which is not known to occur in the EU. There is no information on the vector status of other phloem feeding insects of citrus present in the EU. The pest is listed in Annex IIAI of Directive 2000/29/EC. The main pathways for entry, plants for planting and the vector insect, are closed by existing legislation on import of citrus plants. Nevertheless, should the pest enter, it could establish and spread. In countries where Witches' broom disease of lime (WBDL) is present, it has significant impact. The main knowledge gaps concern (1) and vertical transmission of the phytoplasma to H. phycitis eggs (2) lack of information regarding susceptibility of citrus crops grown in the EU (3) status of potential insect vectors in the EU. Therefore, the WBDL phytoplasma meets the criteria assessed by EFSA for consideration as a potential Union quarantine pest.


  • 'Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia'
  • Hishimonus phycitis


  • Citrus
  • Citrus x aurantiifolia


Type File Size
Pest Risk Analysis Link to file

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