ABSTRACT Epidemics of aster yellows in lettuce in Ohio are caused by at least seven distinct phytoplasma strains in the aster yellows (AY) group. Five of the strains are newly reported: AY-BW, AY-WB, AY-BD3, AY-SS, and AY-SG. All seven strains were characterized based on symptoms in aster and lettuce, and by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Strain AY-BD2 (formerly 'Bolt') causes yellowing and leaf distortion in lettuce and bolting in aster, whereas strain AY-S (formerly 'Severe') causes stunting, leaf clustering, and phyllody. Strain AY-WB causes yellowing and wilting in lettuce and witches'-broom in aster. Strain AY-SG induces horizontal growth in lettuce and aster plants. Strain AY-BW causes chlorosis of emerging leaves and abnormally upright growth of leaf petioles. AY-SS causes symptoms similar to those caused by AY-S but has a different PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) banding pattern. Strains AY-BD2 and AY-BD-3 cause mild leaf and stem distortion in lettuce but are differentiated by PCR-RFLP. All phytoplasma strains collected from lettuce in Ohio belong to the 16SrI group. AY-WB belongs to the 16SrI-A subgroup and the other six belong to the 16SrI-B subgroup. Five of the seven strains were distinguished from each other by primer typing. The results of phylogenetic analyses of sequences of the 16S rRNA genes were basically consistent with the classification based on PCR-RFLP, in which AY-WB clustered with phytoplasmas of the 16rIA subgroup and the other Ohio lettuce strains clustered with phytoplasmas in the 16SrI-B subgroup.