Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are important symbionts of plants that improve plant nutrient acquisition and promote plant diversity. Although within-species genetic differences among AMF have been shown to differentially affect plant growth, very little is actually known about the degree of genetic diversity in AMF populations. This is largely because of difficulties in isolation and cultivation of the fungi in a clean system allowing reliable genotyping to be performed. - A population of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Glomus intraradices growing in an in vitro cultivation system was studied using newly developed simple sequence repeat (SSR), nuclear gene intron and mitochondrial ribosomal gene intron markers. - The markers revealed a strong differentiation at the nuclear and mitochondrial level among isolates. Genotypes were nonrandomly distributed among four plots showing genetic subdivisions in the field. Meanwhile, identical genotypes were found in geographically distant locations. AMF genotypes showed significant preferences to different host plant species (Glycine max, Helianthus annuus and Allium porrum) used before the fungal in vitro culture establishment. - Host plants in a field could provide a heterogeneous environment favouring certain genotypes. Such preferences may partly explain within-population patterns of genetic diversity.