Abstract This study assessed the effect of mycorrhizal colonization by Glomus intraradices (Gi) and G. versiforme (Gv) on the bacterial community composition in the rhizosphere of canola, clover and two tomato genotypes (wild type (76R) and its mutant with reduced mycorrhizal colonization (rmc)). Additionally, the effect of light intensity on the rhizosphere bacterial community composition of the tomato genotypes was studied. The bacterial community composition was assessed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). In canola, which is considered to be a non-mycorrhizal species, inoculation with Gi increased the shoot dw compared to Gv and the non-mycorrhizal control plants and also induced changes in the bacterial community composition in the rhizosphere. These fungal effects were observed although less than 8% of the root length of canola was colonized. On the other hand, about 50% of the root length of clover was colonized and inoculation with Gv resulted in a higher shoot dw compared to Gi or the control plants but the rhizosphere bacterial community composition was not affected by inoculation. Plant growth, mycorrhizal colonization and bacterial community composition of the two tomato genotypes were affected by a complex interaction between tomato genotype, AM fungal species and light intensity. Low light intensity (photosynthetic photon flux 200–250 μmol m −2 s −1) increased the shoot–root ratio in both genotypes and reduced colonization in the wild type. The differences in bacterial community composition between the two genotypes were more pronounced at low than at high light intensity (550–650 μmol m −2 s −1).