- • The genetic structure of bacterial and fungal communities was characterized in the rhizosphere of Medicago truncatula Gaertn. cv. Jemalong line J5 at five developmental stages (three vegetative and two reproductive stages), and in three compartments (bulk soil, rhizosphere soil and root tissues).
- • The genetic structure of microbial communities was determined by cultivation-independent methods using directly extracted DNA that was characterized by automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA).
- • Principal component analyses (PCA) indicate that, for all developmental stages, the genetic structure of microbial communities differed significantly by compartment, with a major shift in the community in root tissues corresponding to the most intimate compartment with the plant.
- • Differences were also recorded during plant development, the most significant being observed during the transition between vegetative and reproductive stages. Throughout this period, plants were shown to establish the highest level of symbiotic association (mycorrhization, nodulation) with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and Rhizobia. During the reproductive stages, the dynamics of the genetic structure differed between bacterial and fungal communities. At the last reproductive stage, the genetic structure of bacterial communities became close to that recorded during the first vegetative stages, suggesting a resilience phenomenon, whereas the genetic structure of fungal communities remained different from the vegetative stages and also from the early reproductive stages, suggesting a persistence of the rhizosphere effect.