A novel method was developed to isolate pure cultures of wild-type Bacillus subtilis and related species from plant roots, even roots washed free of adhering soil. The method uses casein digest-mannitol agarose (CM) media that promote rapid dendritic growth (low K+ ion) or profuse surface film formation (high K+ ion) of Bacillus species at 40 degrees C. Inoculation from the tips of surface growth on agarose leads to self-purification and streaking on CM agar plates (hard agar and high K+) leads to characteristic colony morphology. Phenotypic and 16S rDNA analysis revealed that most root isolates obtained by this method are spore-forming Bacillus species, with enrichment for B. subtilis and its close relatives. Of particular interest is the finding that the majority of these Bacillus isolates and the B. subtilis Marburg strain also form adhering biofilms on inert surfaces. Thus the methods presented may be useful in isolation of biofilm-forming Bacillus and investigation of their role on plant roots.