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We investigated the relative importance of specific Arabidopsis thaliana genes in conferring resistance to bacterial versus fungal pathogens. We first developed a pathosystem involving the infection of Arabidopsis accession Columbia with a virulent isolate of the obligate biotrophic fungal pathogen Erysiphe orontii. E. orontii elicited the accumulation of mRNAs corresponding to the defense-related genes PR1, BGL2 (PR2), PR5 and GST1, but did not elicit production of the phytoalexin camalexin or the accumulation of defensin (PDF1.2) or thionin (THI2.1) mRNAs. We tested a set of 15 previously isolated Arabidopsis phytoalexin deficient (pad), non-expresser of PR (npr) and enhanced disease susceptibility (eds) mutants that are more susceptible to Pseudomonas syringae for their susceptibility to E. orontii. Four of these mutants (pad4-1, npr1-1, eds5-1 and a double npr1-1 eds5-1 mutant) as well as Arabidopsis lines carrying a nahG transgene exhibited enhanced susceptibility to E. orontii and reduced levels of PR gene expression. Comparison of the PR gene induction patterns in response to E. orontii in the various mutants and in the nahG transgenics suggests the existence of NPR1-independent salicylate-dependent and NPR1-independent salicylate-independent defense gene activation pathways. Eleven other eds and pad mutants did not show measurable enhanced susceptibility to E. orontii, suggesting that these mutants are defective in factors that are not important for the limitation of E. orontii growth.