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Summary

Plant genetic manipulation has led to the development of genetically modified plants (GMPs) expressing various traits. Since their first commercial use in 1996, GMPs have been increasingly used, reaching a global cultivating production area of 114.3 million hectares in 2007. The rapid development of agricultural biotechnology and release of GMPs have provided many agronomic and economic benefits, but has also raised concerns over the potential impact these plants might have on the environment. Among these environmental concerns, the unintentional impact that GMPs might have on soil-associated microbes, especially rhizosphere-inhabiting bacteria or rhizobacteria, represents one of the least studied and understood areas. As rhizobacteria are responsible for numerous key functions including nutrient cycling and decomposition, they have been defined as good indicator organisms to assess the general impact that GMPs might have on the soil environment. This minireview summarizes the results of various experiments that have been conducted to date on the impact of GMPs on rhizobacteria. Both biological and technical parameters are discussed and an attempt is made to determine if specific rhizobacterial responses exist for the different categories of GMPs developed to date.