Antagonistic bacteria represent promising biocontrol agents for improving forest production in seedling nurseries or forest soils. The fate of an introduced mer/luc-tagged antagonistic Pseudomonas fluorescens 31K3 was monitored in the rhizosphere of silver birch (Betula pendula) seedlings grown in microcosms containing forest humus or nursery peat. The inoculated strain (10(8) cfu g(-1) soil) was unable to establish in significant numbers in either soil type and turned nonculturable in humus. Detection in both soils was possible only via luminescence of enrichment cultures 80 days post-inoculation. Despite low P. fluorescens survival, inoculation had a positive effect on seedling growth. Limited impact of inoculation on the indigenous microbial communities was identified following analyses of respiration and denitrification potential, community-level physiological profiles and molecular fingerprinting of fungi and eubacteria, and Pseudomonas community structures. The minor changes observed in the indigenous microbial communities, including mycorrhiza development, were not consistent between humus and peat growth substrates. It was concluded that the rhizosphere-related microbial communities developed in both of these highly organic soil systems are highly buffered against introduction of foreign bacteria.