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Witches' Broom Disease of Lime
Witches' Broom Disease of Lime (WBDL) was first observed in Sultanate of Oman in 1974 (12) and it is caused by Candidatus Phytomplasma aurantifolia (13). The disease is well-established and wide spread in all regions of Oman. It was first recorded in United Arab Emirates in 1989 (6), Iran along Pakistan border in 1997 (10) and India in 1999 (7). However, Bové et al. (4), feel the disease recorded in India is Multiple Sprouting and not Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia since no serological and/or molecular assays with WBDL phytoplasma is established.
- A -
Early stage infection by Witches Broom Disease caused by Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia
- B -
Intermediate stage infection
- C -
Advanced stage infection
- D -
A healthy plant

The disease is characterized by the development of witches' brooms on affected lime trees, which includes small new pale green leaves produced as a bushy like appearance and a clump of shoots. In the early stage, there will be a small number of these witches' brooms. However, in the advanced stages, the leaves of the older witches' brooms die, but will be attached to the tree for some time and as the disease progresses, those leaves will dry up and eventually fall off leaving behind dead twigs, shoots and dried witches' broom. At this stage, the tree is almost dead and unproductive. However, the infected trees will carry very few small fruits, which will die quickly. The period from the first witches' broom to the last stage takes about five to six years (1, 2, 3, 5, 8).

The natural host range of WBDL includes Citrus aurantifolia, C. medica, C. limetta, C. lemon and C. jambhiri. In United Arab Emirates, sweet lime (Citrus limettioides) was recorded to be infected naturally by WBDL (11). However, it was not seen naturally infected by WBDL in Oman (8,9)). Among non-rutaceous plant hosts, periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) was found to be infected naturally (1, 9). Three weeds hosts were identified as natural hosts for WBDL based on symptomology and ELISA; Achyranthes aspera, Amaranthus graecizans and Suaeda fruticosa (9).

Talal S. Al-Zadjali, Phd candidate, Entomology, Insect Vectors of Plant Pathogens,P.O. Box 2512, P.C.111, CPO, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, Tel: 00968 99226577, Email:

Al-Zadjali, A.D. 1996. Ultra-structural, histological, DNA diagnostics and tissue culture studies on Witches' broom disease of lime. MSc thesis, Biological science Dept., Wye College, University of London.
Bové, J.M. 1986. Witches' broom disease of lime. FAO Plant Protection Bulletin, 34(4): 217-218.
Bové, J.M. 1995. Virus and virus like diseases of citrus in the Near East region. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Bové, J.M., L. Danet, K. Bananej, N. Hassanzadeh, M. Taghizadeh, M. Salehi and M. Garnier. 2000. Witches' broom disease of lime (WBDL) in Iran. Fourteenth IOCV Conference, Pages 207-212.
Bové, J.M., M. Garnier, A.M. Mjeni and A. Khayrallah. 1988. Witches' broom disease of small-fruited acid lime trees in Oman: First MLO disease of Citrus. Pages 307-309. In: Proceedings of the 10th Conference of the International Organization of Citrus Virologists (IOCV), Riverside.
Garnier, M., L. Zreik and J.M. Bové. 1991. Witches' broom, a lethal mycoplasmal disease of lime trees in the Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Plant Disease, 75:546-551.
Ghosh, D.K., A.K. Das, S. Shayam, S.J. Singh, Y.S. Ahlawat and S. Singh. 1999. Occurrence of witches' broom, a new phytoplasma disease of acid lime (Citrus aurantiifolia) in India. Plant Disease, 83 (3): 302.
Moghal, S., P. Shivanathan, A. Mani, A.D. Al-Zadjali, T.S. Al-Zadjali and Y.M. Al-Raeesy. 1993. Plant Diseases in the Batinah. Mazoon Printing Press, Directorate General of Agricultural Research, Rumais, Sultanate of Oman. Document No. 6/93/22.
Moghal, S.M., A.D. Zidgali and S.S. Moustafa. 1998. Natural host range and reactions of citrus species to witches' broom disease of lime (WBDL) in Oman. Pages 143-152. In Proceedings of the IPM Conference, Sultan Qaboos Univ., Muscat.
Salehi, M., K. Izadpanah and H. Rahimian. 1997. Witches' broom disease of lime in Sistan, Baluchistan. Iranian Journal of Plant Pathology, 33: 3-4, 76.
Shereqi, R.K. and S. Gassouma. 1993. Witches' broom disease in United Arab Emirates. Pages 453-454. In: Proceedings of the 12th Conference of the International Organization of Citrus Virologists (IOCV), Riverside.
Waller, J.H. and J. Bridge. 1978. Plant diseases and nematodes in the Sultanate of Oman. Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. 8 pp.
Zreik, L., P. Carle, J.M. Bové and M. Garnier. 1995. Characterization of the Mycoplasma like Organism Associated with Witches'-Broom Disease of Lime and Proposition of a Candidatus Taxon for the Organism, ''Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia". International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, 45(3): 449-453.
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