X-disease is one of the most serious diseases known in peach (Prunus persica). Based on RFLP analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences, peach X-disease phytoplasma strains from eastern and western United States and eastern Canada were classified in 16S rRNA gene RFLP group 16SrIII, subgroup A. Phylogenetic analyses of 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed that the X-disease phytoplasma strains formed a distinct subclade within the phytoplasma clade, supporting the hypothesis that they represented a lineage distinct from those of previously described ‘Candidatus
’ species. Nucleotide sequence alignments revealed that all studied X-disease phytoplasma strains shared less than 97.5 % 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity with previously described ‘Candidatus
’ species. Based on unique properties of the DNA, we propose recognition of X-disease phytoplasma strain PX11CT1R as representative of a novel taxon, ‘Candidatus
Phytoplasma pruni’. Results from nucleotide and phylogenetic analyses of secY and ribosomal protein (rp) gene sequences provided additional molecular markers of the ‘Ca. Phytoplasma pruni’ lineage. We propose that the term ‘Ca.
Phytoplasma pruni’ be applied to phytoplasma strains whose 16S rRNA gene sequences contain the oligonucleotide sequences of unique regions that are designated in the formally published description of the taxon. Such strains include X-disease phytoplasma and - within the tolerance of a single base difference in one unique sequence - peach rosette, peach red suture, and little peach phytoplasmas. Although not employed for taxon delineation in this work, we further propose that secY, rp, and other genetic loci from the reference strain of a taxon, and where possible oligonucleotide sequences of unique regions of those genes that distinguish taxa within a given 16Sr group, be incorporated in emended descriptions and as part of future descriptions of ‘Candidatus