Although endogenous phytohormones such as abscisic acid (ABA) regulate root growth, and many rhizobacteria can modulate root phytohormone status, hitherto there have been no reports of rhizobacteria mediating root ABA concentrations and growth by metabolising ABA. Using a selective ABA-supplemented medium, two bacterial strains were isolated from the rhizosphere of rice (Oryza sativa) seedlings grown in sod-podzolic soil and assigned to Rhodococcus sp. P1Y and Novosphingobium sp. P6W using partial 16S rRNA gene sequencing and phenotypic patterns by the GEN III MicroPlate test. Although strain P6W had more rapid growth in ABA-supplemented media than strain P1Y, both could utilize ABA as a sole carbon source in batch culture. When rice seeds were germinated on filter paper in association with bacteria, root ABA concentration was not affected, but shoot ABA concentration of inoculated plants decreased by 14% (strain P6W) and 22% (strain P1Y). When tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) genotypes differing in ABA biosynthesis (ABA deficient mutants flacca - flc, and notabilis - not and the wild-type cv. Ailsa Craig, WT) were grown in gnotobiotic cultures on nutrient solution agar, rhizobacterial inoculation decreased root and/or leaf ABA concentrations, depending on plant and bacteria genotypes. Strain P6W inhibited primary root elongation of all genotypes, but increased leaf biomass of WT plants. In WT plants treated with silver ions that inhibit ethylene perception, both ABA-metabolising strains significantly decreased root ABA concentration, and strain P6W decreased leaf ABA concentration. Since these changes in ABA status also occurred in plants that were not treated with silver, it suggests that ethylene was probably not involved in regulating bacteria-mediated changes in ABA concentration. Correlations between plant growth and ABA concentrations in planta suggest that ABA-metabolising rhizobacteria may stimulate growth via an ABA-dependent mechanism.