The rhizosphere of Trifolium repens and Lolium perenne was divided into three fractions: the bulk soil, the soil adhering to the roots and the washed roots (rhizoplane and endorhizosphere). After isolation and purification of DNA from these fractions, 16S rDNA was amplified by PCR and cloned to obtain a collection of 16S rRNA genes representative of the bacterial communities of these three fractions. The genes were then characterized by PCR restriction analysis. Each different profile was used to define an operational taxonomic unit (OTU). The numbers of OTUs and the numbers of clones among these OTUs allowed to calculate a diversity index. The number of OTUs decreased as root proximity increased and a few OTUs became dominant, resulting in a lower diversity index. In the root fraction of T. repens, the restriction profile of the dominant OTU matched the theoretical profile of the 16S rRNA gene of Rhizobium leguminosarum. This study showed that plant roots create a selective environment for microbial populations.