We previously demonstrated a genetic basis in tomato for support of the growth of a biological control agent, Bacillus cereus UW85, in the spermosphere after seed inoculation (K. P. Smith, J. Handelsman, and R. M. Goodman, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 96:4786-4790, 1999). Here we report results of studies examining the host effect on the support of growth of Bacillus and Pseudomonas strains, both inoculated on seeds and recruited from soil, using selected inbred tomato lines from the recombinant inbred line (RIL) population used in our previous study. Two tomato lines, one previously found to support high and the other low growth of B. cereus UW85 in the spermosphere, had similar effects on growth of each of a diverse, worldwide collection of 24 B. cereus strains that were inoculated on seeds and planted in sterilized vermiculite. In contrast, among RILs that differed for support of B. cereus UW85 growth in the spermosphere, we found no difference for support of growth of the biocontrol strains Pseudomonas fluorescens 2-79 or Pseudomonas aureofaciens AB254. Thus, while the host effect on growth extended to all strains of B. cereus examined, it was not exerted on other bacterial species tested. When seeds were inoculated with a marked mutant of B. cereus UW85 and planted in soil, RIL-dependent high and low support of bacterial growth was observed that was similar to results from experiments conducted in sterilized vermiculite. When uninoculated seeds from two of these RILs were planted in soil, changes in population Bevels of indigenous Bacillus and fluorescent Pseudomonas bacteria differed, as measured over time by culturing and direct microscopy, from growth patterns observed in the inoculation experiments. Neither RIL supported detectable levels of growth of indigenous Bacillus soil bacteria, while the line that supported growth of inoculated B. cereus UW85 supported higher growth of indigenous fluorescent pseudomonads and total bacteria. The vermiculite system used in these experiments was predictive for growth of B. cereus UW85 inoculated on seeds and grown in soil, but the patterns of growth of inoculated strains - both Bacillus and Pseudomonus spp. - did not reflect host genotype effects on indigenous microflora recruited from soil to the spermosphere.