Potato purple top wilt (PPT) is a devastating disease that occurs in various regions of North America and Mexico. At least three distinct phytoplasma strains belonging to three different phytoplasma groups (16SrI, 16SrII and 16SrVI) have been associated with this disease. A new disease with symptoms similar to PPT was recently observed in Texas and Nebraska, USA. Two distinct phytoplasma strain clusters were identified. One belongs to the 16SrI phytoplasma group, subgroup A, and the other is a novel phytoplasma that is most closely related to, and shares 96.6 % 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity with, a member of group 16SrXII. Phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences of the novel PPT-associated phytoplasma strains, previously described ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’ organisms and other distinct unnamed phytoplasmas indicated that the novel phytoplasma, termed American potato purple top wilt (APPTW) phytoplasma, represents a distinct lineage and shares a common ancestor with stolbur phytoplasma, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma australiense’, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma japonicum’, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma fragariae’, bindweed yellows phytoplasma (IBS), ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma caricae’ and ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma graminis’. On the basis of unique 16S rRNA gene sequences and biological properties, it is proposed that the APPTW phytoplasma represents ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma americanum’, with APPTW12-NE as the reference strain.