The Antarctic is a pristine environment that contributes to the maintenance of the global climate equilibrium. The harsh conditions of this habitat are fundamental to selecting those organisms able to survive in such an extreme habitat and able to support the relatively simple ecosystems. The DNA of the microbial community associated with the rhizospheres of Deschampsia antarctica Desv (Poaceae) and Colobanthus quitensis (Kunth) BartI (Caryophyllaceae), the only two native vascular plants that are found in Antarctic ecosystems, was evaluated using a 16S rRNA multiplex 454 pyrosequencing approach. This analysis revealed similar patterns of bacterial diversity between the two plant species from different locations, arguing against the hypothesis that there would be differences between the rhizosphere communities of different plants. Furthermore, the phylum distribution presented a peculiar pattern, with a bacterial community structure different from those reported of many other soils. Firmicutes was the most abundant phylum in almost all the analyzed samples, and there were high levels of anaerobic representatives. Also, some phyla that are dominant in most temperate and tropical soils, such as Acidobacteria, were rarely found in the analyzed samples. Analyzing all the sample libraries together, the predominant genera found were Bifidobacterium (phylum Actinobacteria), Arcobacter (phylum Proteobacteria) and Faecalibacterium (phylum Firmicutes). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first major bacterial sequencing effort of this kind of soil, and it revealed more than expected diversity within these rhizospheres of both maritime Antarctica vascular plants in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, which is part of the Sãouth Shetlands archipelago. © 2010 International Society for Microbial Ecology All rights reserved.