BACKGROUND: Though bacteria and fungi are common inhabitants of decaying wood, little is known about the relationship between bacterial and fungal community dynamics during natural wood decay. Based on previous studies involving inoculated wood blocks, strong fungal selection on bacteria abundance and community composition was expected to occur during natural wood decay. Here we focused on bacterial and fungal community compositions in pine wood samples collected from dead trees in different stages of decomposition. We showed that bacterial communities undergo less drastic changes than fungal communities during wood decay. Furthermore, we found that bacterial community assembly was a stochastic process at initial stage of wood decay and became more deterministic in later stages, likely due to environmental factors. Moreover, composition of bacterial communities did not respond to the changes in the major fungal species present in the wood but rather to the stage of decay reflected by the wood density. We concluded that the shifts in the bacterial communities were a result of the changes in wood properties during decomposition and largely independent of the composition of the wood-decaying fungal communities.