The biocontrol bacterium Burkholderia cepacia is known to suppress a broad range of root pathogenic fungi, while its impact on other beneficial non-target organisms such as arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi is unknown. Direct interactions between five B. cepacia strains and the AM fungus, Glomus intraradices (BEG87) were studied in root-free soil compartments separated from a rooting compartment by a fine nylon-mesh. B. cepacia had no effect on AM fungal biomass and energy reserves measured using the signature fatty acid 16:1omega5 from phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) and neutral lipid fatty acids (NLFAs), respectively. Hyphal P transport was also unaffected by the biocontrol bacterium, which either stimulated, reduced or had no effect on length of the external mycelium of G. intraradices. The cyclic PLFAs cy17:0 and cy19:0 were suggested to be useful markers for estimation of biomass of B. cepacia. The presence of mycelium of G. intraradices reduced the biomass of three out of five B. cepacia strains as indicated by a reduction in PLFAs cy17:0 and cy19:0, while other bacterial PLFAs were unaffected by mycelium of G. intraradices. On the other hand, two out of five B. cepacia strains reduced the amount of branched PLFAs suggesting a reduction in the population of Gram-positive bacteria in these cases. In conclusion, the B. cepacia seems to have no impact on neither mycorrhiza formation nor on the functioning of the AM fungus G. intraradices in terms of P transport, whereas our results suggest that mycorrhiza might have adverse effects on B. cepacia. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.