<p>In this study, the impacts of six potato (Solanum tuberosum) cultivars with different tuber starch allocations (including one genetically modified [ GM] line) on the bacterial communities in field soil were investigated across two growth seasons interspersed with 1 year of barley cultivation, using quantitative PCR, clone library, and PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analyses. It was hypothesized that the modifications in the tuber starch contents of these plants, yielding changed root growth rates and exudation patterns, might have elicited altered bacterial communities in the soil. The data showed that bacterial abundances in the bulk soil varied over about 2 orders of magnitude across the 3 years. As expected, across all cultivars, positive potato rhizosphere effects on bacterial abundances were noted in the two potato years. The bulk soil bacterial community structures revealed progressive shifts across time, and moving-window analysis revealed a 60% change over the total experiment. Consistent with previous findings, the community structures in the potato rhizosphere compartments were mainly affected by the growth stage of the plants and, to a lesser extent, by plant cultivar type. The data from the soil under the non-GM potato lines were then taken to define the normal operating range (NOR) of the microbiota under potatoes. Interestingly, the bacterial communities under the GM potato line remained within this NOR. In regard to the bacterial community compositions, particular bacterial species in the soil appeared to be specific to (i) the plant species under investigation (barley versus potato) or, with respect to potatoes, (ii) the plant growth stage. Members of the genera Arthrobacter, Streptomyces, Rhodanobacter, and Dokdonella were consistently found only at the flowering potato plants in both seasons, whereas Rhodoplanes and Sporosarcina were observed only in the soil planted to barley.</p>
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