SUMMARY Susceptibility was evaluated of host and non-host plants to three pathogenic Botrytis species: the generalist B. cinerea and the specialists B. elliptica (lily) and B. tulipae (tulip). B. tulipae was, unexpectedly, able to infect plant species other than tulip, and to a similar extent as B. cinerea. To study host and non-host interactions in more detail, the three Botrytis species were inoculated on Arabidopsis wild-types and 23 mutant genotypes. Disease development was monitored macroscopically by quantifying the lesion area and microscopically by bright-field and fluorescence microscopy following histochemical staining. B. cinerea and B. tulipae were very similar in their ability to infect the tested Arabidopsis genotypes, whereas B. elliptica caused disease only on a few Arabidopsis mutant genotypes. Arabidopsis mutants with a delayed or reduced cell death response were generally more resistant to Botrytis infection, whereas mutants in which cell death was accelerated were more susceptible. Differences in susceptibility between genotypes were generally gradual. Only the camalexin-deficient mutant pad3 was fully susceptible to all three Botrytis species. Cellular changes were monitored during compatible and incompatible interactions. The formation of papillae, the presence of lysosome-like vesicles and the intracellular accumulation of H(2)O(2) and nitric oxide were visualized in the infection zones using fluorescent probes. Based on histology and responses of Arabidopsis mutants, a model is proposed in which resistance against Botrytis, besides the production of camalexin, depends on the balance between cell death and survival.