We investigated the influence of plant species, soil type, and plant development time on the shaping of microbial communities in soil and in association with roots. The sample group consisted of a total of 32 microcosms in three habitats: soil, rhizosphere, and rhizoplane. Communities were represented by the patterns of a sequence-specific separation of rRNA target sequences. Effects of experimental parameters were classified by a cluster analysis of pattern similarities. The type of plant species (clover, bean, or alfalfa) had the greatest effect in plant-associated habitats and also affected soil patterns. Plant development had a minor habitat-dependent effect that was partly obscured by replicate variation. The results stress the applicability of biased community representations in an analysis of induced variation
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