SUMMARY The oxidative burst, a transient and rapid accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), is a widespread defence mechanism of higher plants against pathogen attack. There is increasing evidence that the necrotrophic fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea itself generates ROS, and that this capability could contribute to the virulence of the fungus. Two potential H(2)O(2)-generating systems were studied with respect to their impact on the interaction of B. cinerea and its host plant Phaseolus vulgaris. A Cu-Zn-superoxide dismutase gene (bcsod1) and a putative glucose oxidase gene (bcgod1) were cloned and characterized, and deletion mutants were created using a gene-replacement methodology. Whereas the Deltabcgod1-mutants displayed normal virulence on bean leaves, the Deltabcsod1 mutants showed a significantly retarded development of lesions, indicating that the Cu-Zn SOD-activity is an important single virulence factor in this interaction system. Whether dismutation of (fungal or host) superoxide, or generation of H(2)O(2) (or both), are important for pathogenesis in this system remains to be elucidated.